Watertown Native Makes Strides In Malaria Treatment

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Despite advancements in research, malaria remains one of the deadliest diseases worldwide.

But a north country native is hoping his research helps get a handle on this deadly problem.

In Africa, mosquitoes aren't just a nuisance, they're deadly.

"In a town the size of Watertown, 35 kids a day, are dying," said Professor Stephen Rich of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

They're dying of malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes.

Watertown native Stephen Rich is on the frontline to change that.

Now a professor at Umass Amherst, Rich is researching ways to help fight back against the deadly disease.

He hopes he found one in Artemisia annua, a plant which has been used in Asia for thousands of years to treat fever.

"Our method is novel in that we say, 'We're not going to do anything to the plant - except we breed it properly, make the proper plant. Then we're going to feed people the plant,'" said Rich.

Only a portion of the plant is extracted and put into drug form.

Rich and his team of researchers are studying the effect of using the whole plant - feeding it to patients.

It's a cheaper solution that has produced good results in research.

In fact, in Africa, where over half a million people died from malaria in 2010 alone, Rich says doctors there don't want to wait for more studies.

"They're already to use it. They're listening to what our research says and they want to deploy it," said Rich.

Rich says despite the positive results in research, this new form of fighting malaria could still be two to three years away from being approved.
 

Saturday, November 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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