YOGYAKARTA- Malaria is classified as an infectious disease which still becomes a major problem in health, making 544,470 malaria cases with 900 casualties. Data from the WHO in 2010 showed there were 81 million cases of malaria with 117,704 deaths each year. In Yogyakarta, malaria outbreak also occurred in Kokap, Kulonprogo Regency. In early January 2012, a total of 68 cases of malaria occurred in the area.
Various efforts of malaria control have been carried out but still not optimal. Several obstacles in the effort include the emergence of malaria vector (Anopheles mosquitoes) which is resistant to insecticides and parasite (Plasmodium) that is resistant to commercial anti-malaria.
"Plasmodium (particularly P. falciparum) in several countries has been reported resistance to chloroquine, a commercial antimalarial drug today," said a student of Department of Chemistry (2008), UGM, Dhina Fitriastuti, Tuesday (31/7).
This condition drives a lot of advanced research to find new antimalarial drugs. One of them is carried out by Dhina with Imelda Octa Tampubolon and Putri Ernia Wati (Department of Chemistry Class 2009). The three – through-Research Student Creativity Program – successfully researched and developed the anti-malarial synthesis and anti-malarial testing from clove leaf oil. Her research even delivered them to be the champion in the 25th of National Student Scientific Week for poster category at Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta in mid-July.
According to Dhina, one of new antimalarial compounds which can be synthesized is (1)-N-(3,4- Dimethoxybenzyl)-1.10- phenanthrolinium bromide and can be produced from clove leaf oil. Clove oil has long been used for the treatment of dental medication and dental anesthesia. Clove oil in Indonesia is a natural product that is not expensive and can be obtained easily in Southeast Asia with eugenol as the most dominant component.
"Previous research showed that eugenol can be converted into the compound 3,4- Dimethoxybenzaldehyde (Veratraldehyde) through the process of isomerization, oxidation and methylation," she added.
She added that their research is done through the synthesis of the Organic Chemistry Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the test phase of antimalarial activities at the Laboratory of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Gadjah Mada. Dhina explained the synthesis stage is done by changing the Veratraldehyde into veratryl alcohol by crushing it in a mortar and pestle using reducing agent NaBH4. After synthesizing a compound suspected of having activity as antimalarial, activity test is conducted to prove the allegation. Activity test is performed using hem polymerization inhibitory activity testing.
While on the other hand to see the ability of compounds as antimalarial, Dhina added, the IC50 value is showed, which means the concentration of compound required to inhibit 50% of cell growth. The smaller the concentration required, the better the activity of these compounds as antimalarial.
"Based on the result, the compound (1)-N-(3,4- Dimethoxybenzyl)-1.10- phenanthrolinium bromide has smaller IC50 value than chloroquine. This means that the compounds synthesized have better antimalarial activity than chloroquine," Dhina said.
At the end, Dhina asserted that the research they are doing is making a beginning of malaria medicine. The active synthesized compound still needs further clinical testing including in vivo testing, mechanism of action and toxicity testing. To do so, interdisciplinary cooperation with the medical sciences (in the advanced test) and the pharmacy (in the formation of drug dosage) is necessary.