Can natural marine products treat parasitic conditions?

Parasitoses are infectious diseases caused or transmitted by parasites

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Can natural marine products treat parasitic conditions?
© Sean Gallup / Stringer Getty Images

Parasitoses are infectious diseases caused or transmitted by parasites. Parasites can be hosted by virtually all living organisms, plants and animals. Many parasites coexist with the host without harming it, therefore they do not cause disease. Some parasites, however, are direct causes of disease, others damage the host through the production of toxins, still others remove nutrients from the host organism, causing states of asthenia and depression.

The exposure may also have been brief, for example a stopover in a country where malaria is endemic should raise suspicions about the possibility of contagion in a patient who develops a fever immediately after his return; it is also necessary to investigate possible exposure to diseases transmitted by water or contaminated foods (raw meat or fish, vegetables grown in soil contaminated by feces of affected individuals or animals), immersion in fresh water, sexual contact, l exposure to arthropod stings.

The patient's immune status is also important to determine the possibility or otherwise of parasitic infections: some protozoan infections occur much more easily, and sometimes more virulently, in subjects who have contracted the human immunodeficiency virus, others take rapidly progressive and fulminant forms in splenectomized subjects, while others are more likely to develop in subjects suffering from cystic fibrosis.

Researchers© Sean Gallup / Stringer Getty Images

The study: Marine Natural Products as Novel Treatments for Parasitic Diseases, published in the Handbook of experimental pharmacology, found interesting results and the scientists explained:

"Parasitic diseases including malaria, leishmaniasis, and trypanosomiasis have received significant attention due to their severe health implications, especially in developing countries.

Marine natural products from a vast and diverse range of marine organisms such as sponges, corals, molluscs, and algae have been found to produce unique bioactive compounds that exhibit promising potent properties, including antiparasitic, anti-Plasmodial, anti-Leishmanial, and anti-Trypanosomal activities, providing hope for the development of effective treatments.

Furthermore, various techniques and methodologies have been used to investigate the mechanisms of these antiparasitic compounds. Continued efforts in the discovery and development of marine natural products hold significant promise for the future of novel treatments against parasitic diseases."