Boosting availability of potent anti-malaria drug

London, Jan 18 (IANS) Scientists have found a simple method to boost availability of the most powerful anti-malaria drug, artemisinin, at an affordable cost for 225 malaria sufferers worldwide.

“We have developed a simple apparatus for this process, which enables the production of large volumes of the substance under very controlled conditions,” said Peter H. Seeberger, professor of chemistry at Freie Universitat Berlin.

The drug price varies as the substance with an extremely complex molecular structure is derived from the plant called sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), which grows mainly in China and Vietnam, and varies seasonally in its availability.

“The production of the drug is therefore no longer dependent on obtaining the active ingredient from plants. We convert the artemisinic acid into artemisinin in a single step,” said Seebergerm, according to a university statement.

The compound’s production required several steps, following each of which the intermediate products had to be isolated laboriously — a method that was far too expensive to offer as a viable alternative to the production of the drug from plants.