With great success, Norbert Arnold and Katrin Franke from Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) presented their research findings at the 2nd Congress on Medicinal Plants of Ethiopia. The Congress, as part of the university cooperation program Welcome to Africa, took place on 6 and 7 October 2014 in Addis Ababa. The IPB is involved with a project to anti-worm agents from Ethiopian medicinal plants in the cooperative project between the University of Halle and the University of Addis Ababa.
The infection with human pathogenic soil worms (helminthiasis) is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. Approximately 1.7 billion people are infected with hook, whip and roundworms worldwide. Transmission usually occurs through contact with fecal matter in the soil. The worms destroy the intestinal mucosa and care for anemia, digestive problems and growth disorders. Medicines for helminthiasis are on the market since 1940; however, the worms have developed resistance to most of the drugs used today.
One goal of the IPB research project is therefore to find new drugs that can be obtained from local, Ethiopian plants. The scientists of the IPB have developed a simple test that allows rapid identification of potential drug candidates. With this test, the IPB scientists have now begun to test crude extracts from 20 different Ethiopian medicinal plants. At least three plant species has been identified that contain promising compounds against worms. "The worm test requires no special equipment or chemicals," says Katrin Franke. "It is designed so simple that it can be carried out under simple conditions in Ethiopia."
And that is the goal. Ethiopian scientists will continue to screen the local flora for suitable medicinal plants. The most promising types will be explored further in the IPB to identify the corresponding agents. In addition to this knowledge transfer there is a transfer of people at Welcome to Africa. Two pharmacy students have already sent to Addis Ababa to establish the test as part of their thesis. A scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) comes in return from Ethiopia to the IPB to write here his doctoral thesis.
Welcome to Africa, funded since 2013 by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, is an exchange program of the German Academic Exchange Service, for the establishment and development of a sustainable research collaboration between African and German universities. In the current funding period of three years cooperation projects of eleven German universities with various partners from all over Africa are financed. The Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg is involved with the project Based Research Capacity Building - Ethiopian Medical Plants.