C&EN senior editor Lisa Jarvis explains in the article that existing anti-malaria drugs are losing effectiveness as the parasite responsible for the disease develops resistance. The article describes how the retired Merck researcher provided a long forgotten 1947 research paper detailing the company's early efforts to identify and test tropical plants that might fight malaria. Though the paper described some 600 plants that showed promise against the disease, scientists never pursued a more rigorous program to study the plants.
Armed with public and private funding, a biochemist at Rutgers is now resurrecting this research project. University scientists have already identified 60 promising plants from the group and found at least 10 active substances that could be turned into promising drugs. Chemists will eventually try to make the most active substances more potent, last longer, and minimize their side-effects, the article notes.
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