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Researchers believe the açaí berry may be more than a super food

Acai berries

18 November 2019

Huge progress was made in reducing malaria cases and deaths between 2000 and 2015, but over the last two years this progress has stalled. The search for new treatments is now a priority.

Muriel Cozier

Researchers from the University of Campinas in Brazil and Texas A&M University, US have found that açaí berries reduce the levels of parasites that cause malaria in malaria-infected mice.

Some traditional healers in Brazil already use açaí berries to treat malaria symptoms. In recent years the high antioxidant content of the fruit has boosted its popularity as a ‘superfood’. The antioxidant activity arises mainly from the presence of polyphenol compounds that have been linked to health benefits.

Polyphenols from açaí, which is native to Brazil, and has anti-inflammatory and tumour preventing properties, was orally administered to malaria infected mice. Not only did the treatment reduce the parasitic load of the mice they also survived for more than 15 days, whereas none of the untreated mice survived. The açaí extract appeared to interfere with the parasites’ protein homeostasis or the balance between protein production and degradation. The researchers said that their work opens avenues to develop açaí polyphenols as potential new anti-malarial candidates.

For further details visit this month’s Chemistry & Industry

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