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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
India claims herbal malaria cure
Mosquito
Mosquito borne malaria kills a million people a year
By Nageshwar Patnaik in Orissa

Trials in India of a herbal remedy for malaria have produced highly encouraging results, according to the doctor who discovered the cure.

Preliminary tests show the drug is safer and better than the chloroquinine group of medicines, which are the main anti-malarial drugs in use to-day.

However, it will take at least another year before it is known whether the herbal remedy can be launched commercially.

"About 170 patients have been completely cured of malaria and prevention tests on at least three chronic malarial patients have been successful," says Dr Prasant Kumar Pradhan of the Indian Red Cross in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Killer disease

Malaria is caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes.

Fever, nausea, vomiting, headache and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms of the disease.

In India, more people die of malaria than of Aids. The World Health Organisation estimates one million people die from from the disease annually.

"I am extremely pleased with the progress of trials which have shown that the drug, known as Omaria, is well accepted by the patients without any side-effect" says the drug's inventor, Mr Deepak Bhattacharya.

The herb used in the remedy is widely available and is very cheap to produce, he says.

"We are optimistic that it will eventually help the millions of people and families world-wide who are living with this devastating disease, " said Dr Lalit Mohan Mukherjee who is associated with the research and development into Omaria.

"In the ancient Hindu scriptures, there had been mention of this herbal drug. But we tried for malaria and it succeeded in just three days," said Dr Mukherjee.

According to Mr Bhattacharya, the next stage of the research is to isolate the active chemical ingredients of the herb so to analyse its chemical structure.

This will allow for the commercial manufacture of either herbal or a chemical drug.

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21 Apr 00 | Health
Malaria vaccine 'closer'
26 Jul 99 | Medical notes
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