For over 2,000 years a Chinese herbal medicine referred to as Chang Shan has been used to treat fevers associated with malaria. Now research at The Scripps Research Institute(TSRI) has confirmed how and why this traditional remedy works.
Information published in the journal Nature reveals that halofuginone, a compound found in Chang Shan, halts a process that allows organisms to synthesize a protein they need to live. It appears that the halofuginone-like chemical interferes with the same process in malaria parasites, killing them in an infected person’s bloodstream.
“Our new results solved a mystery that has puzzled people about the mechanism of action of a medicine that has been used to treat fever from a malaria infection going back probably 2,000 years or more,” says Paul Schimmel, Ph.D., with the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI.
Halofuginone has been studied in clinical trials for cancer, but the new findings suggest this substance can have benefits for numerous diseases.