The Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has succeeded in identifying two species of herbs carrying elements for a potential drug for malaria and is hopeful of bringing it to the market within two years as an alternative to existing drugs like chloroquine.

Defense Research Laboratory (DRL), Tezpur, under the DRDO, has identified two species of Gomphostema, which have the potential to cure both types of malaria i.e. plasmodium vivax and plasmodium falciparum. Both the plant species are abundantly available in the foothills of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh border, sources said.

DRL Tejpur carried out preliminary research with the crude extract of the subject plant – gomphostema and the in-vitro tests with the same and it was found to be effective against strains of plasmodium falciparum. Encouraged by the results in the preliminary studies, DRDO is currently undertaking advanced research with the plant like isolation and characterization of the active compound which is expected to improve the efficacy against malaria, health ministry sources said.

The protozoal parasite plasmodium vivax chloroquine, which causes malaria, has developed resistance with the commonly used chloroquine.

The other drug automason also has side-effects. The new drug, under experimentation, is expected to provide better cure, sources said, quoting the scientists behind the research. DRDO scientists also claimed that the drug would remove the Plasmodium Vivax strains from the blood of the affected person.

The product has been tested and approved at the IIS, Bangalore. The efforts now are on to identify the chemical structure of the herb so that it could be cultivated for mass production of the potential drug.

The clinical trials are expected to be launched within few months at the DRDO laboratory at Gwalior, sources added.