BALTIMORE, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Johns Hopkins University researchers have designed compounds that may fight malaria and prostate cancer more safely and effectively than standard drugs.
The JHU team created a series of compounds called trioxanes that mimic the mechanism of artemisinin, the active agent in the Artmesia annua plant, which has been used in China as an herbal remedy for malaria for thousands of years.
They found peroxide in artemisinin caused malaria parasites to self-destruct, and two of their new compounds outperformed the gold standard for malaria treatment, sodium artesunate, when give intravenously in rodents. One trioxane compound was up to seven times more effective and the other up to four times better -- and when administered orally one compound was four times more effective than the standard malaria therapy.
Malaria afflicts up to 500 million people a year, killing up to 3 million -- mostly children, researchers said.
Researchers also found one trioxane compound treated human prostate cancer more effectively than standard drugs.