I just read a very nice peace of work regarding malaria-treatment. This inspires me to show three very nice publications to you, which I discovered in the last feew weeks. Three of them are very impressive papers, the scientific results could give malaria treatment a push. As it is not longer a secret that malaria resistance against artemisinin was discovered at the cambodian border, it is very important to elaborate new affordable drugs or to improve old ones.
But as you can read in these articles (or at least in the abstracts) there are three promising things in the pipeline.
Malaria-infeted mice are completely cured
It describes that mice can be cured completely by artemisinin-based derivatives, the so called anilides, in combination with mefloquine. Anilides still bear a trioxane unit which is the active group in artemisinin but are further decorated with some sulfur-containing groups. These derivatives can easily be obtained by simple chemical manipulations of dihydroartemisinin and show remarkable activity against Plasmodium berghei.
This very interesting and trendsetting paper describes the production of artemisinic acid in genetically changed yeast. By that you can develope a very efficient way to provide infected people with artemisinin. It is just neccessary to further modify the obtained compound by two oxidation steps to get the desired antimalarial agent.
You could have asked now….ok, there is a cheap and efficient way to produce artemisinic acid and the two steps to yield artemisinin out of this acid are very straightforward as well. But why there is no application to supply people with this drug? Especially if you consider that the price for natural artemisinin fluctuates heavily as it depends on good harvests of the plant Artemisia annua. Listen up, here comes the answer!
Seeberger and colleagues reported about a very efficient way to achieve the last synthetic steps in large scale reactions. They are using a selfbuilt flow-reactor to manage this conversions and end up with a good yield of this important drug. They claym that it is possible to produce 200g of artemisinin within one day and 1500 reactors would be enough to cover the global need for this drug. I really think that this is a promissing technique to produce affordable artemisinin-based therapeutics. But this achivement is just successful if the people do not longer stick to artemisinin monotherapies as this enforces the resistance of plasmodium towards this drug.
Stay tuned 😉