Toothpaste ingredient triclosan could fight malaria

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Scientists say a common ingredient of toothpaste, triclosan, could be developed to fight drug-resistant strains of malaria as it has potential to interrupt infections at two critical stages in the liver and the blood

Why is a new research required?

Malaria kills around half a million people every year, the vast majority of them children in the poorest parts of Africa. The disease can be treated with a number of drugs, but resistance to these medicines is increasing, raising the risk that some strains may become untreatable in the future.

Because of this, the search for new medicines was becoming increasingly urgent

After being transferred into a new host via a mosquito bite, malaria parasites work their way into the liver, where they mature and reproduce. They then move into red blood cells, multiply and spread around the body, causing fever and potentially life-threatening complications.


Scientists have known for some time that triclosan can halt malaria parasites’ growth at the blood stage of the infection by inhibiting the action of an enzyme known as enoyl reductase (ENR), which is involved in production of fatty acids.

In toothpaste, this helps prevent a build-up of plaque bacteria.

In this latest work, however, Bilsland’s team found that triclosan also inhibits an entirely different enzyme of the malaria parasite, called DHFR.

DHFR is the target of the antimalarial pyrimethamine—a drug to which malaria parasites are increasingly developing resistance, particularly in Africa.

FActs Regarding Malaria

  • Malaria is typically spread by mosquitoes.
  • Symptoms resemble those of flu, but, without treatment, the effects can sometimes be long-term and fatal.
  • Travelers, hikers, and campers can protect themselves with medication, pest control, clothing, and nets.


  • a sensation of cold with shivering
  • fever, headaches, and vomiting
  • seizures sometimes occur in younger people with the disease
  • sweats, followed by a return to normal temperature, with tiredness
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