According to evidence, the prevalence of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is becoming more common in some parts of the world. The deadly disease caused by Naegleria fowleri – the brain-eating amoeba – has no effective treatment.
A study reported in ACS Chemical Neuroscience finds that a compound removed from the leaves of a traditional medicinal plant kills the amoeba. As per lab studies, the leaves of the plant work by causing them to commit cell suicide.
In fact, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis is mostly fatal within a few weeks of developing symptoms. It is characterized by fever, headache, hallucination, vomiting, and seizures. Although the disease is rare, increasing cases are now being reported in the Philippines, the U.S., Southern Brazil, and some Asian countries.
The most common line of treatment for the disease is Amphotericin B. The treatment is proven to be effective in laboratory environments, but is not very effective when given to patients. This is because Amphotericon B is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier for patients of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis.
Scientific efforts strive to find efficacy of other compounds from the herb
A scientific study carried out by a team of researchers vied to explore if compounds obtained from l.viscosa could be an effective treatment for primary amoebic meningoencephalitis. In fact, l.viscosa is a strong smelling plant that has long been used in the Mediterranean region for traditional medicine.
To use the plant for treatment, researchers first formulated an ethanol extract from the leaves, to discover it could destroy N.fowleri amoebae. Following this, specific compounds were isolated and tested from the extract. This led to the finding – inuloxin A – killed the amoeba in laboratory experiments by damaging membranes and causing changes in the mitochondria, oxidative damage, chromatin condensation, and ultimately forcing the parasite for programmed cell death.