The lab that goes to the root of the problem
Around 20 % of the 750,000 plants counted on the surface of the planet, are in danger of disappearing over the next thirty years. In southern countries, this accelerated erosion of biodiversity could have a dramatic and brutal impact, involving the disappearance of numerous potential medicines, and the traditional know-how associated with them. Together with local partners (universities and NGOs), the pharmacognosy department of the University of Liège is attempting to tap into this cultural and biological heritage, for the benefit of local communities. Its main objective is the fight against malaria (paludism).
Malaria kills a child every 30 seconds
It is no accident that the researchers from Liège have turned their attention to malaria. The condition known as «plasmodium», named after the parasite transmitted by bites from certain kinds of mosquitoes (of the Anopheles genus),
kills a million people in the world every year. Young children are the
principal victims. So great is the problem, that malaria kills three
times more children than the AIDS virus (HIV). Because of the poverty of
the victims, this sickness is far from being a priority for the
pharmaceutical companies. Indeed, the multinational companies have only a
moderate interest in medicines from the plant kingdom, as, strictly
speaking, they are forbidden to patent them.