New methods in plant biotechnology could allow an inexpensive mass-production of a malaria drug.
Photo: © Fuentes et al., eLife

08.07.2016

<< First < Previous Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Next > Last >>
A new and inexpensive technique for mass-producing the main ingredient in the most effective treatment for malaria, artemisinin, could help meet global demands for the drug, according to a study to be published in the journal eLife.

Artemisinin is produced in low yields by a herb called Artemisia annua (A. annua), otherwise known as sweet wormwood. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology have now discovered a new way to produce artemisinic acid, the molecule from which artemisinin is derived, in high yields. Their method involves transferring its metabolic pathway – the series of biochemical steps involved in its production – from A. annua into tobacco, a high-biomass crop.

“For the foreseeable future, artemisinin will be the most powerful weapon in the battle against malaria but, due to its extraction from low-yielding plants, it is currently too expensive to be widely accessible to patients in poorer countries,” says contributing author Ralph Bock, Director of the Department for Organelle Biology, Biotechnology and Molecular Ecophysiology. “Producing artemisinic acid in a crop such as tobacco, which yields large amounts of leafy biomass, could provide a sustainable and inexpensive source of the drug“.

The team have called this approach to producing more artemisinic acid COSTREL (“combinatorial supertransformation of transplastomic recipient lines”).

<< First < Previous Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Next > Last >>