Turning papaya leaf into a cure for dengue fever

: University of Nottingham

A traditional herbal remedy for the dangerous tropical disease 'dengue fever' could be turned into a pill to treat patients thanks to groundbreaking research by scientists at the University of Nottingham's Malaysia Campus (UNMC). 

Papaya leaf juice has for a long time been used in some areas of India and South East Asia as a treatment for dengue fever. A compound in the juice is known to help with blood clotting and can  restrict the internal bleeding caused by the disease. 

Now, thanks to funding from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, a team of chemical engineers in the University's Food and Pharmaceutical Engineering Group in Malaysia are tackling the challenge of extracting the bioactive compound 'carpaine' for use in a pill for dengue.  

Dengue is a mosquito-born viral infection found in tropical and sub-tropical climates and tends to be concentrated in urban and semi-urban areas. The infection causes flu-like symptoms and can develop into a potentially fatal form of the disease – Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. The incidence worldwide has grown dramatically in recent decades with severe dengue now a leading cause of hospitalisation and death among children and adults in Asia and Latin America. There is currently no vaccine for it.

Leading the research at UNMC, Associate Professor Dr Ching Lik Hii, said: "Dengue has been a big issue in Malaysia and other countries with similar climates for more than 20 years. People are dying and more people are being infected as the Aedes mosquito population grows and becomes more active. This global problem inspired me to look for something that is a well-known traditional plant based remedy and make it much easier to process and consume".

"We are targeting the active bio-compound carpaine which we know can increase blood platelets and therefore helps reduce internal bleeding. We are also looking at whether the younger leaves or the older leaves contain more carpaine, and also whether the stems of the papaya plant could also be useful."

The carpaine compound is extracted by using alcohol. An acid-base extraction procedure is then used to yield crude carpaine material. Further purification steps produces solid carpaine that is at least 95 percent pure. At the end of the three-year project, the team hopes to have developed the best processing method to achieve the highest yield of carpaine. Other aims are to find out how the carpaine degrades during storage and which parts of the papaya plant are best to use.  

The challenge will eventually be to find adequate supply sources of papaya leaf because there are not many large papaya farms in Malaysia and existing farms do not harvest the leaves as their priority is to grow papaya fruit. 

Eventually the researchers aim to work with industry partners in Malaysia and beyond to produce a carpaine medication. They anticipate the product could take at least ten years to bring to market because extensive approvals and clinical trials are needed.  

In this post, the University of Nottingham's very own Provost and CEO at the Malaysia campus, Professor Graham Kendall, tells how he became seriously ill with dengue after being bitten by a mosquito near his home in Kuala Lumpur. 

Definition of Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)

Definition of Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF): A syndrome due to the dengue virus that tends to affect children under 10, causing abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding) and circulatory collapse (shock). DHF starts abruptly with high continuous fever and headache plus respiratory and intestinal symptoms with sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Shock occurs after 2 to 6 days with sudden collapse, cool clammy extremities, weak thready pulse, and blueness around the mouth (circumoral cyanosis). There is bleeding with easy bruising, blood spots in the skin (petechiae), spitting up blood (hematemesis), blood in the stool (melena), bleeding gums and nosebleeds (epistaxis). Pneumonia and heart inflammation (myocarditis) may be present. The mortality is appreciable ranging from 6 to 30%. Most deaths occur in children. Infants under a year of age are especially at risk of death. DHF is also called Philippine, Thai, or Southeast Asian hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

Experimental Vitiligo Treatment Shows Promise in Mice

WEDNESDAY Feb. 27, 2013 -- DRUGS.COM

A genetically modified protein could provide the first effective treatment for the skin condition vitiligo, a new study in mice suggests.

People with vitiligo have white patches on the face, hands and other parts of the body. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system becomes overactive and kills the pigment cells that give skin its color.

Researchers at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine developed a genetically modified protein that reversed vitiligo in mice and had similar effects on human skin tissue samples. Findings from animal studies do not always hold up in human trials, however.

A protein called HSP70i plays a major role in the autoimmune response that causes vitiligo. The researchers genetically modified an amino acid in the protein in order to create a mutant version of HSP70i. This version replaces normal HSP70i and reverses the autoimmune response that causes vitiligo, the study authors explained in a Loyola news release.

When the mutant HSP70i was given to mice with vitiligo, their salt-and-pepper fur turned black, giving them a normal appearance. The mutant protein had a similar effect on human skin samples, according to the study, published in the current issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Researcher I. Caroline Le Poole, a professor in Loyola's Oncology Institute, and colleagues are seeking approval and funding to conduct a clinical trial of the modified protein in humans.

About 1 million Americans have vitiligo, which affects about one in 200 people worldwide. There are no long-term effective treatments for the condition. Current options include steroid creams, light therapy and skin grafts, but none of them can prevent vitiligo from progressing.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more aboutvitiligo.

Rabies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
Rabies
Dog with rabies.jpg
A dog with rabies in the paralytic (post-furious) stage

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and other warm-blooded animals.[1] Early symptoms can include fever and tingling at the site of exposure.[1] These symptoms are followed by one or more of the following symptoms: violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness.[1] Once symptoms appear it nearly always results in death.[1] The time period between contracting the disease and the start of symptoms is usually one to three months; however, this time period can vary from less than one week to more than one year.[1] The time is dependent on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system.[2]

Rabies is caused by lyssaviruses including: rabies virus and Australian bat lyssavirus.[3] Rabies is spread when an infected animal scratches or bites another animal or human.[1] Saliva from an infected animal can also transmit rabies if the saliva comes into contact with the mouth, nose, or eyes.[1] Overall dogs are the most common animal involved.[1] More than 99% of rabies cases in countries where dogs commonly have the disease are caused by dog bites.[4] In the Americas, bat bites are the most common source of rabies infections in humans, and less than 5% of cases are from dogs.[1][4] Rodents are very rarely infected with rabies.[4] The rabies virus travels to the brain by following the peripheral nerves. The disease can only be diagnosed after the start of symptoms.[1]

Animal control and vaccination programs have decreased the risk of rabies from dogs in a number of regions of the world.[1] Immunizing people before they are exposed is recommended for those who are at high risk. The high-risk group includes people who work with bats or who spend prolonged periods in areas of the world where rabies is common.[1] In people who have been exposed to rabies, the rabies vaccine and sometimes rabies immunoglobulin are effective in preventing the disease if the person receives the treatment before the start of rabies symptoms.[1] Washing bites and scratches for 15 minutes with soap and water, povidone iodine, or detergent may reduce the number of viral particles and may be somewhat effective at preventing transmission.[1][5] Only a few people have survived a rabies infection after showing symptoms and this was with extensive treatment known as the Milwaukee protocol.[6]

Rabies causes about 26,000 to 55,000 deaths worldwide per year.[1][7] More than 95% of these deaths occur in Asia and Africa.[1] Rabies is present in more than 150 countries and on all continents but Antarctica.[1] More than 3 billion people live in regions of the world where rabies occurs.[1] A number of countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, the United States, and Western Europe do not have rabies among dogs.[8] Many small island nations do not have rabies at all.[9]

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Bracing for head lice season

 

By Alex Brooks  Kidspot

 

Any parent who has dealt with head lice and nits knows how annoying this problem can be - and most parents with children attending schools or group settings are likely to encounter it at some point.

Queensland research has shown that head lice are becoming resistant to certain treatments and Harvard University research says phobia about head lice amongst parents might be contributing to head lice resistance.

Head lice is caused by a nearly invisible insect called Pediculus humanus capitis. The six-legged tiny critter is rarely seen and parents usually become aware of the infestation by finding the white eggs or nits in their child’s hair near the scalp.

 

Find more about head lice:

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