Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

Investigating the potential of Himalayan plant extracts against malaria

Anushka Banerjee

Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Health City, Rajiv Gandhi Salai, OMR, Kancheepuram, Chennai TN 603103

Dr. Dinkar Sahal

Group Leader, Malaria Drug Discovery Lab, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Aruna Asif Ali Marg, New Delhi 110016


Malaria continues to be one of the most prevalent and deadly diseases spread across the continents of Africa and Asia. According to the WHO World Malaria Report 2017, progress in the decrease of the number of malaria cases has slowed, despite the success of artemisinin combination therapies (ACT) and the world stands at the risk of facing a global malaria resurgence due to the emerging problem of drug resistance and lack of effective anti-malarial vaccines. Drug resistant Plasmodium strains have accentuated the need for the discovery of novel, potent, safe and affordable anti-malarial therapeutics. The tropical and sub-tropical geography of India offers a multitude of plants with a large number of promising medicinal characteristics that can be explored for their potential drug activity. Two such plants are Cissampelos pareira and Fritillaria roylei which are found in the valley of flowers in the hills of Uttarakhand. Both these plants are rich sources of alkaloids which confer an abundance of medicinal properties. In this study, 18 different extracts from both Cissampelos pareira and Fritillaria roylei were examined for their potential activity against malaria parasites using SYBR green fluorescent screening with validation through microscopy. Organic solvent extracts of the root, stem and leaf were dissolved in DMSO to prepare samples to be tested against Plasmodium falciparum 3D7. Initial screening at 100 µg/mL resulted in the selection of select potent samples. These samples were then examined against the parasite at varying concentrations ranging from 1.5 - 100 µg/mL and their IC50 values were obtained. The results revealed that two extracts from roots and one extract from the stem of Cissampelos pareira were the most effective inhibitors of Plasmodium growth with IC50 values below 10 µg/mL.

Keywords: Plasmodium, drug discovery, anti-malarial

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