Scientists in malaria drug breakthrough
German scientists have developed a new way to make a key malaria drug that they say could easily quadruple production and drop the price significantly, increasing the availability of treatment for a disease that kills hundreds of thousands every year.
The entire apparatus is compact, about the size of a small suitcase, and inexpensive. That means it can be easily added to production sites anywhere around the world.
Chemists at the Max Planck Institute take the waste product from the creation of the drug artemisinin – artemisinic acid – and convert it into the drug itself.
“Four hundred of these would be enough to make a world supply of artemisinin,” said unit director Peter Seeberger. “The beauty of these things is they’re very small and very mobile.”
A paper on the new technique was published this month in chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie.
Colin Sutherland, a malaria expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the development could boost production of the key drug.
“If it’s a simple process, given a certain amount of plant material, you can generate more drugs, that will make things cheaper and faster,” he said.
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