Our Partnership with the Al-Quds University, Jerusalem

Un énorme espoir

Our relationship with Pr Mutaz Akkawi is based on a common interest in herbal medicine. Most parasites of tropical diseases ( Leishmaniasis, Trypanosoma, Schistosomiasis, Malaria) need hemoglobin for their survival and multiplication. They are blood-feeding or hematophagous : the digestion of red blood cells however creates large quantities of heme, a molecule which is toxic for the parasite. Plasmodium falciparum has found a way around this by crystallizing heme into hemozoin, a brown pigment, nontoxic for the parasite but with disastrous effects on health and immunity of humans. Pr Mutaz Akkawi published last year an interesting paper on hemozoin inhibition by Salvia officinalis (Sauge, Salbei). The antimalarial efficiency of quinine and chloroquine was based on the same mechanism. Artimisinin seems to attack the parasite by other pathways. But anyway, resistance of the parasite against all these molecules present in pharmaceutical pills is building up. If a new antimalarial molecule could be discovered which inhibits hemozoin formation like chloroquine did, a novel and significant step in the fight against malaria and other tropical diseases would become possible. We suggested to Pr Akkawi to study the effect of Artemisia sieberi, also called herba alba and growing wild from Palestine to Morocco. He was able to confirm that extracts of this plant have a strong inhibitory effect on hemozoin formation, and surprisingly that extract from the stems has a much stronger effect than extract from the leaves. Both Salvia officinalis and Artemisia sieberi contain large amounts of thujone, and an obvious hypothesis would be that this molecule plays a key role. But the situation is probably more complex and other constituents line polyphenols, saponins, coumarins, essential oils might play a role, by synergy or addition. Like in the case of Artemisia annua: a true polytherapy. The results of Pr Akkawi have been submitted for publication in a scientific journal.
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Alexandre Poussin

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