Changing a patient’s diet could reduce the side-effects resulting from quinine treatment for malaria.
A new study has found that lower levels of the amino acid tryptophan, were more likely to elicit side effects such as headaches, blindness, deafness and, potentially, even death.
Adverse quinine responses are most severe in malnourished individuals, particularly in areas where staple food crops such as yams, contain very little tryptophan.
Using a yeast-model, researchers discovered that quinine can block the take-up of tryptophan, causing quinine toxicity in cells. In a large screen of malaria patients, they also found incidences of severe reactions to quinine were significantly lower in patients with high levels of tryptophan.
Researchers believe combining a quinine/tryptophan treatment method or altering a patient’s diet, could allow for higher quinine doses to be administered, improving its effectiveness without the risk of adverse side-effects.