The Laboratory of Neuro and Immunopharmacology (NIMFAR) of Fiocruz Rondônia, in the Amazon, develops research in 3 main areas: Bioprospecting of natural products of biotechnological interest, the pathophysiology of malaria, and vector control. Bioprospecting studies of new substances have shown the possibility of exploring substances of natural origin, semi-synthetic, and synthetic with possible analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-tumor, anxiolytic, antidepressant, and anticonvulsant properties.
According to Quintino Dias, Dr. in Sciences and researcher in Public Health at Fiocruz RO, who leads the studies, this line of research seeks to contribute to the phases of pre-clinical research to identify chemical compounds with the potential to become candidates new drugs for the treatment of chronic infectious and non-infectious diseases. The researcher also explains that the search for new medications justifies due to the socioeconomic impact that the treatment of these diseases brings to the country, mainly due to the high costs and limitations in the therapeutic efficacy of the drugs currently available to the population.
Another line of research developed by NIMFAR is the investigation of the pathophysiological aspects of malaria infection and its treatment, as well as its relationship with the evolution of other chronic non-infectious diseases such as cancer, diabetes, neuropathic pain, depression, anxiety, and convulsion. For the researcher in Public Health, there is a need for more investments and, consequently, new studies aimed at understanding the relationship between malaria and other diseases.
Epidemiological data on malaria, provided by the Ministry of Health, show that the disease continues not only causing significant negative impacts on public health, but also economic consequences, “since during the infection, people who would be actively working, stop to perform their work duties,” explains Alice Guimarães, Planning and Quality coordinator, Fiocruz Rondônia. Therefore, even though malaria has lost its status as a neglected disease, it remains an important issue to be resolved from an economic and public health perspective.
Still, regarding the pathophysiology of malaria, evidence shows that the disease, as well as its treatment, can influence the development, survival, and symptoms of tumors. To prove evidence, experimental studies are being developed at NIMFAR, such as the doctoral thesis of the academic Maria de Fátima Rodrigues, from the Graduate Program in Experimental Biology, at the Federal University of Rondônia, in partnership with Fiocruz. The work assesses whether malaria and antimalarial drugs contribute to tumor growth, worsening of the pathophysiological processes, and symptoms of cancer, such as the inflammatory process and typical cancer pains.