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Antihistamine Could also be used as a Potential Antimalarial Drug

Researchers have found that astemizole, which is used for treating allergy can also be used as a potential drug for treating malaria//.

According to a study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The study, largely funded by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (MRI), determined that in a test tube the antihistamine killed the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria in humans, including parasite strains that were resistant to traditional malaria therapies. The drug was also shown to be effective in mouse models. The findings are published in the July 2, 2006, advanced online edition of Nature Chemical Biology.

“Time and money are major roadblocks when it comes to developing new drugs for the treatment of neglected diseases like malaria,” said senior study author David Sullivan, MD, an associate professor with MRI and the Bloomberg School’s W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. “Astemizole is promising as an antimalarial, but still needs to be evaluated for effectiveness as an antimalarial in humans.”

For the study, Sullivan and colleagues Curtis Chong and Jun Liu of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology first assembled the Johns Hopkins Clinical Compound Library, which is a collection of 2,687 drugs. Seventy percent of the compounds are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while the remaining 30 percent are approved by regulatory agencies in other countries. The researchers screened the drugs for their effectiveness in killing the malaria-causing parasite and found that astemizole was one of the more promising.

The researchers then gave astemizole, along with the drug’s major human metabolite, desmethylastemizol, to mice infected with Plasmodium. They measured 80 percent reduction in parasite counts with moderate doses of drug in
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