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BLI Research Project By: Tiffany Hou Artemisinin.

Jan 13, 2016



Prosper Green
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BLI Research ProjectBy: Tiffany HouArtemisininIntroductionMalaria affects hundreds of thousands of people each year in the tropics and sub tropicsMany anti-malarial drugs have developed resistanceACTs are the best form of treatment, but is largely unaffordableScientists are trying to use synthetic biology to produce ACTsMalariaAbout half of the world is at risk for malaria219 million people are infected with malaria every year and 660,000 die from it

How Does Malaria Attack the Body?

ArtemisininPowerful anti-malarial drugDerived from Artemisia annua (A. annua)Grows in China and VietnamFirst synthesized in 1979 by Chinese scientistsArtemisinin is part of the isoprenoid family, which are organic compounds composed of two or more units of hydrocarbons

How Does Artemisinin Work?Reduces parasites biomassAttacks the parasites sexual stage of life cycleMain chemical feature is the unstable bond between two oxygen atoms which allows it to produce free radicals that break up proteins in the protozoa The release occurs upon exposure to Hemozoin

Problems and Limitations of ArtemisininCost

Poor cure rate of monotherapy

NeurotoxicityCostArtemisinin has presented a supply chain challenge in the pharmaceutical industry The demand has outstripped the supply and the shortages have caused the prices to soar A dose of Artemisinin costs $1.30 whereas another anti-malarial drug, chloroquine, costs $0.25 per dose Poor Cure Rate of MonotherapyModeling studies suggests 6 days of treatment, but high rates of recrudescence do not match up with the modelHigh rates are usually attributed to the short half life of artemisinin and the increased drug clearance caused by repeated dosagePharmacokinetic behavior is not the only problemNeurotoxicityArtemisinin has been show to cause brainstem toxicity in animals in pre-clinical experimentsMillions of doses in various formulations have been given to humans and none of them show signs of major neurotoxicity Probable cause of neurotoxicity is the duration of exposure rather than maximum concentrationsThere has been a recent claim that artemisinin causes mild but significant hearing loss Concern of neurotoxicity should be maintained in children who have a more vulnerable neurological system and have limited therapeutic experience The HeroesJay Keasling

Amyris and Sanofi

World Health OrganizationDerivatives and ACTsArtemisinin derivatives are semi-synthetic artemisinin based compounds that improve the effectiveness of artemisinin ACTs are Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy treatments which are made from fast acting artemisinin based compounds and drugs from a different classBenefits of ACTs are their high efficacy, fast action, and the reduced likelihood of resistance formation

Microbial Production of Artemisinin

Microbial Production of Artemisinin

How Does Microbial Production of Artemisinin Solve the Problem?Cost is lowered because extracting artemisinin from the plant is much more difficult and time consumingAccess of the technology to produce synthetic artemisinin can be restricted to responsible manufacturers who will only manufacture and sell ACTsNot much is known about the link between artemisinin and neurotoxicity, but artemisinin derivatives have less major toxicity than other available anti-malarial drugs

Other BenefitsSynthetic artemisinin is anticipated to have an impact on the pervasiveness of counterfeit drugs

Work Cited