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New Compounds from African Plant as Anti-diarrheal Remedy (OTT case 11-010)


More than 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal illnesses occur each year. In developing countries, diarrhea is the second leading cause of malnutrition and death among children under five years old. Globally, it causes more than 10 percent of child deaths — about 800,000 each year. Diarrheal diseases are also a major cause of morbidity and mortality among travelers, HIV/AIDS patients, people displaced by disasters and wars, deployed military, Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients and the elderly. Current principal treatments, such as oral rehydration solutions (ORS) and vaccines, do not reduce morbidity or the duration and discomfort associated with diarrheal diseases. Opiates are the only drugs that rapidly shorten the duration of diarrhea and alleviate pain. However, opiates not only cause constipation and drowsiness, but also are addictive. Therefore, they are not recommended for children with bloody diarrhea. New therapies are needed to treat diarrhea and accompanying abdominal discomfort.

Invention Summary

Researchers in the University of Idaho and collaborators have discovered a set of novel non-opiate compounds for the treatment of diarrheas, dysentery and abdominal pain. Isolated from an African traditional medicine, these new compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic effects. These compounds are able to effectively reverse diarrhea-induced weight loss, mitigate diarrhea, and relieve pain in mice.

Market Application

These compounds have potential for use as stand-alone medication to treat diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. These compounds can also be used as adjunctive therapy to ORS and other diarrheal therapies.


  • Fewer side effects
  • Nonaddictive
  • Shorten the duration of diarrhea while alleviating pain at the same time
  • Cheaper than synthetic drugs