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Researchers make malaria breakthrough

The Local · 17 Jan 2012, 16:41

Published: 17 Jan 2012 16:41 GMT+01:00

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The breakthrough offers hope to the more than 200 million malaria sufferers worldwide, especially in poor countries, by making artemisinin more affordable, the Max Planck Society said.

"There is an effective treatment against malaria but it is not accessible to all of the more than 200 million people worldwide who are affected by the disease," it said in a written statement.

"Millions, especially in the developing world, cannot afford the combination drug preparation, which consists mainly of artemisinin," it added.

In addition, it said the medication's price varied because of the seasonal nature of the basic ingredient which mainly grows in China and Vietnam.

Chemists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in the eastern city of Potsdam and Berlin's Free University have developed a way to synthesise the artemisinin molecule using oxygen and light.

"The production of the drug is therefore no longer dependent on obtaining the active ingredient from plants," one of the two researchers, Peter Seeberger, said in the statement.

They started by using artemisinic acid which can easily be produced in genetically modified yeast and converted it into artemisinin in a single step using a simple apparatus.

This enables "the production of large volumes of the substance under very controlled conditions", Seeberger said.

The researchers said they had overcome one problem by not carrying out the synthesis as a "one-pot reaction."

Instead, they used a continuous-flow reactor producing a solution after four and a half minutes in which 40 percent of the artemisinic acid had become artemisinin.

"We assume that 800 of our simple photoreactors would suffice to cover the global requirement for artemisinin," Seeberger said, adding that the synthesis process could be ready for technical use in six months.

Story continues below…

Malaria caused the death of an estimated 655,000 people in 2010, with 86 percent of victims children aged under five, the World Health Organisation said last month.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

20:57 January 17, 2012 by carlm
The Malaria breakthrough was decades ago, it was called DDT. Then liberals showed up and killed it because it wasn't perfect (killed birds or something when used is gross over application), so it was outlawed and millions of people died each year. But that's OK, liberals have small value for life, as long as it's not their own.
04:47 January 18, 2012 by wagnha
DDT contains dioxin. Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War contained dioxin....look at the effect it had on the Vietnamese population and US troops.


Now you tell me is it liberals or (and I'm guessing here) conservatives like you that have little value for life. I could go on and on here, but I'm not going to waste any more time than I already have, except to say I hope I do not have to live in a world that you would have control over.
10:20 January 18, 2012 by elboertjie
Hopefully this vaccine would not be bad for the nervous system as many other forms of vaccines are, especially (but not only) if it contains mercury.
13:19 January 18, 2012 by AsianGerman
But just one article back, they reported that the last producer of Genetically Modified crops has stopped producing it. Now this technique uses GM crops :S
11:02 January 19, 2012 by LecteurX
Well that's something to be happy about. Great news for a change.

@ carlm - woof! woof! woof!

It pretty amazes me how just about any thing, any article on any issue, can bring some to have Pavlovian reactions against "liberals" or "the left", no matter how besides the point it is.
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