Malaria causes about half a million deaths each year, and about half the world’s population is at risk of contracting it. The disease is caused by the Plasmodium parasite and is transmitted by the bite of the infected mosquito. The big problem is that this organism is becoming increasingly resistant to the remedies that fight it.
Therefore, the risk of this worsening condition has become much greater if new drugs are not developed. But it seems there are already signs of a light at the end of the tunnel.
A study newly published in the Scientific Reports journal has proven that the solution may be in a chemical component, usually found in products such as soap, toothpaste, clothing and even furniture.
For this, the scientists involved in the process were assisted by the Eve robot, built on Artificial Intelligence. It has been used so that it could locate a series of compounds approved by the FDA (Food Drug Administration), the agency that regulates the use of substances in foods and drugs. They were able to inhibit the enzyme responsible for the development of the parasite.
During the activity, Eve detected that the triclosan would be perfect to achieve the expected goal. The compound was able to inhibit the enzyme in two species of parasites that cause the disease, including invariants that had developed resistance during the treatment of the disease.
Therefore, the experts tested the action of triclosan in various ways, so that its effectiveness could be verified. The work was also combined with other tests, which found their ability to fight other types of enzymes present in these parasites. Thus, the conclusion was that the substance can be used with different therapeutic functions.
For a few decades, the FDA banned the use of triclosan in the production of soap as there was evidence that it could affect the hormonal system and survive for long periods in an environment. Another similar ban recently occurred during the years 2016 and 2017, as more than 200 researchers and practitioners signed a declaration for greater regulation of the substance worldwide.
According to one of the study’s researchers, Elizabeth Bilsland, the help of the Eve robot and the findings found were essential for the creation of new remedies for the treatment of malaria.
Also, it states that the substance is totally safe and perfectly able to block stages of evolution of the parasite. Therefore, the possibility of resistance would be greatly reduced.
By 2015, Eve had also located a component that could fight malaria, speeding up the process of designing a new drug. One of the creators of the robot, Ross King, a professor at the University of Manchester, points out that this type of AI is essential to automate the work of scholars by offering a smarter approach in scientific processes. Therefore, this type of technology can be considered important for the discovery of other remedies, offering great rewards for humanity.