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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Update

Air Date: Week of February 9, 2001

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TOOMEY: Malaria kills an estimated 3,000 people every day. But because of drug resistance, only a handful of medications are still effective against the disease, and new treatments are urgently needed. One of the most promising may be a common household antiseptic. Scientists in India experimented with triclosan, an ingredient used in everything from mouthwash to toothpaste. They injected lab mice with triclosan and found the antibacterial completely eliminated the malaria parasite in the rodents. Researchers think triclosan works by blocking an enzyme the parasite needs to feed and reproduce. The researchers also found that triclosan caused no apparent side effects. And since this is a completely new way to attack the parasite, they hope it might be effective even on the most drug-resistant strains of malaria. And that's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.

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