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Novel Method Found To Produce Anti-Malarial Drug Artemisinin

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  • Malaria is caused by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito.
  • Artemisinin drug obtained from Artemisia annua is approved for the treatment of Malaria.
  • New method to create artemisinin was discovered to treat malaria.

Novel Method Found To Produce Anti-Malarial Drug Artemisinin

A new way of creating drug for first-line of defense against malaria in the world was designed by a research team from the University of Cardiff.

The World Health Organization has recommended artemisinin for the treatment of all cases of malaria and the drug mainly works by attacking all the stages of the malaria parasite in the blood.


Artemisinin supply relies on the extraction of the compound from the plant Artemisia annua. Due to an urgent demand for the developing world and a need to develop the drug at a low cost, the research team was very keen to find a way of producing the drug in the lab.

The research paper was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

The research team from the Cardiff University have described a new method that is capable of reversing a part of the production process that can be seen in nature.

Discovery of a New Protein - Amorphadiene
The discovery of a protein called amorphadiene synthase, that produces amorphadiene may be a key intermediate in the long chain of events which can produce artemisinin.

Amorphadiene is further modified in the plant by reaction with oxygen. The research team also found that removing several steps of the process may directly use an oxidised precursor of amorphadiene to generate dihydroartemisinic aldehyde - which is an advanced chemical that is needed for producing artemisinin.

Instead of using 13 steps that are required to produce the drug, the research team has achieved to produce the drug within 4 steps from the oxidized precursor.

Professor Rudolf Allemann, Head of Cardiff University's School of Chemistry, said, "Our new method has essentially bypassed a number of key steps on the way to producing artemisinin - the first line of defence against malaria."

"What we're left with is a novel and powerful approach for producing the drug that does not rely on extraction from large amounts of plants. Our approach could reduce market fluctuations in the supply chain of artemisinin."

The Chinese Scientist Tu Youyou was awarded a nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine in October 2015 for the discovery of artemisinin.

It has also been reported that certain patients have shown resistance to artemisinin. Professor Allemann has also found new method which could cause resistance and develop ways of altering the chemical makeup of the drug to tackle it.

Professor Allemann, said, "Artemisinin is still the best treatment we have against malaria, and so by creating this new method we hope that researchers will be able to explore this resistance more closely and devise ways of tackling it."

"Our production method is also generic and can be used to create analogues of artemisinin that might allow us to tackle malaria in a number of new ways."

  • Malaria is caused by the bite of a female anopheles mosquito belonging to the species called Plasmodium.
  • Plasmodium falciparum is the most prevalent parasite that is responsible for malaria-related deaths globally.
  • Around 3.2 billion people in the world are found to live in areas which are at high risk for malarial transmission.
  • Malaria can be transmitted from person to person by sharing needles, blood transfusions and through pregnancy.
  • 90% of people infected with malaria are from Africa.
  1. Melodi Demiray, Xiaoping Tang, Thomas Wirth, Juan A. Faraldos, Rudolf K. Allemann. An Efficient Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Dihydroartemisinic Aldehyde. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, (2017); DOI: 10.1002/anie.201609557
  2. Impact of Malaria - (https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/malaria_worldwide/impact.html )
  3. 10 Facts About Malaria - (https://borgenproject.org/10-facts-malaria/)

Source: Medindia

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