Goji berries, which are full of nutrients, are a popular remedy. According to a study, the brightly colored berries could also be used to treat two fatal tropical diseases.The research was published in the European Journal of Medical Chemistry.
Can goji berries fight the parasites that cause fascioliasis and schistosomiasis?
The research centered around a new plant-based drug that may help cure life-threatening tropical diseases. The promising drug was created through a collaboration between Aberystwyth University and Cardiff University, two Welsh universities.
The research team, which was led by Professor Andrew Westwell from Cardiff University, developed a drug compound from the goji berry plant. The drug is active against the parasites that cause fascioliasis and schistosomiasis.
About 17 million people worldwide are currently infected with fascioliasis, with figures set to increase. Meanwhile, schistosomiasis, which isn’t as widely known, is the second most deadly human parasitic disease after malaria. At least 600 million people currently have schistosomiasis and the disease claims about 300,000 lives annually.
Schistosomiasis is spread by a waterborne parasite, while fascioliasis is spread by a foodborne parasite. Both of the diseases are treated with a single drug that’s widely administered to the population where the diseases are widespread.
Unfortunately, this kind of single treatment usually causes drug resistance, especially among those who are most susceptible to these diseases. To address this concern, the team of researchers worked together to develop the goji berry-based treatment.
Westwell from Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences explained that the research team is hopeful that the plant-based drug can be the key to providing “major health benefits for some of the world’s poorest people who are at risk of contracting schistosomiasis and fascioliasis.” (Related: Why goji berries might be the Holy Grail of health.)
The research was funded by the Welsh government’s Life Science Research Network of Wales. Meanwhile, the drug design was developed at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences while its effectiveness took place at Aberystwyth University.