Indian camphorweed can cure amoebiasis

 
By Biplab Das
Published: Sunday 15 July 2007

-- indian camphorweed, that grows in lowlands and swamps, may hold the key to a cure for amoebiasis, a disease caused by the parasite Entamoeba histolytica that mostly hits the poor. A team of researchers from Jadavpur University and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, both in Kolkata, have isolated a compound from the root of this plant that stops the growth of the parasite.

Among the seven compounds isolated from the root extract of the shrub (Pluchea indica) is r/j/3. "This pure compound, chemically a thiophene derivative, was most effective in checking the proliferation of the parasites," says lead researcher Tapan Kumar Chatterjee.

This could be a potent anti-amoebic drug, he says. The findings of the study will be published in a forthcoming issue of Phytomedicine.

The researchers took a virulent strain (hm1) of E histolytica and cultured trophozoites, the stage in which the parasite resides in the intestine and causes symptoms of amoebiasis. Then they exposed the trophozoites to varying doses of the pure compound.

r/j/3 showed optimum result at a dose of 0.00005 gm per ml. Two hours after administration, it caused granulation in the trophozoites. In four hours, the trophozoites were completely broken down. r/j/3 acted slower than synthetic drugs like metronidazole. "But being a plant product, it is safe and non-toxic. Metronidazole is very toxic and parasites are sometimes resistant to it," Chatterjee says.

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