New technologies gearing up to meet rising demand for vital malaria drugs

Nov 19, 2008

Three emerging technologies have the potential to significantly improve supplies of drugs to combat malaria, according to a report published today.

With renewed efforts to eradicate malaria – a disease which kills up to one million people every year, most of them young children – the global demand for antimalarials is set to increase dramatically over the next four years.

The report, launched at a special meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Malaria at Westminster, assesses a portfolio of new technologies, collectively known as The Artemisinin Enterprise:

-- The Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York is using fast-track plant breeding to increase yields of artemisinin from the medicinal plant.
-- The Institute for One World Health is using synthetic biology to produce artemisinin through fermentation and subsequent chemical conversion.
-- The Medicines for Malaria Venture is developing novel synthetic artemisinin-like compounds.

The World Health Organization recommends artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) as the most effective treatments available today. Around 100 million Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) were sold in 2006, but forecasts show that demand will at least double over the next four years, potentially growing to over 300 million doses annually.

Artemisinin is extracted from the medicinal plant Artemisia annua but production of the drugs is expensive and quality variable. Uneven supplies have caused prices to vary from USD $1200/kg to $120 between 2005 and 2008 leading to high levels of uncertainty in the market for growers and pharmaceutical companies.There is growing concern that the current global supply of artemisinin cannot reliably and affordably produce the quantities or quality that will be required for ACT production.

Today's report concludes that the outputs from all three technologies can collectively help satisfy the projected global demand for malaria treatments by providing alternative sources of artemisinin, stabilising the supply of effective antimalarial drugs such as ACTs and reducing the cost of artemisinin production.

The new technologies will only be used to support the production of high quality combination therapies for malaria. Such therapies are essential to counter the development of artemisinin resistance, a major threat to effectively fighting the disease. These technologies are envisaged to come online in the next three to seven years.

The report recommends measures to help to ensure the effective introduction of the new technologies of the Artemisinin Enterprise into the ACT supply chain. It also highlights suggestions for the wider malaria community, aimed at improving the supply of ACTs in other ways. These include creating buffer stocks, harmonizing the regulatory approach for faster ACT approvals and improving demand forecasting.

Source: University of York

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New malaria method could boost drug production

Feb 16, 2012

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 ...

Teasing out malaria's genetic secrets

Oct 18, 2010

Every year, malaria infects more than 250 million people, and more than 1 million die from the parasitic disease. For decades, doctors have treated malaria with chloroquine — an effective, inexpensive ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...