Research Highlight

Drug combo for HIV, malaria

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.21 Published online 26 February 2010

The researchers (L to R): Lokesh Chandra Mishra, Virendra K. Bhasin, Amit Bhattacharya & Manish Sharma.

Two anti-HIV drugs have shown promise in the treatment of malignant malaria, a common co-infection among the HIV infected in developing countries.

The drugs — indinavir or nelfinavir — used to treat HIV infection enhance the efficacy of artemisinin, a drug that cures malignant malaria.

A research team from the Department of Zoology, University of Delhi has shown that the two anti-HIV drugs work alone and in combination with artemisinin to inhibit the growth of malaria parasite.

The effect of anti-HIV drugs on anti-malarial potency of artemisinin had not been studied earlier. The researchers chose eight anti-HIV drugs to test on chloroquine sensitive (3D7) and chloroquine resistant (RKL 303) strains of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. They used those stages of the parasite that thrive in red blood cells of human host.

Of all the anti-HIV drugs, indinavir and nelfinavir showed promising anti-malarial efficacy. Indinavir was found to synergise the antimalarial action of artemisinin irrespective of the parasite strains.

Similarly artemisinin and nelfinavir interaction shows synergism in nearly all combinations against both chloroquine resistant and chloroquine sensitive P. falciparum parasites.

The drugs did not disrupt the activity of anti-malarial drugs. "Instead, our studies show that they augment the anti-malarial activity of artemisinin in cultures against chloroquine-sensitive and chloroquine-resistant strain of P. falciparum," says lead researcher Virendra K. Bhasin from the Department of Zoology of University of Delhi, New Delhi.


  1. Mishra, C. L. et al. Short Report: HIV Protease Inhibitors, Indinavir or Nelfinavir, Augment Antimalarial Action of Artemisinin in vitro. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 82, 148-150 (2010) | Article | PubMed |