We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Scientists have developed a potentially powerful new drug against malaria, inspired by a chemical found in sweet wormwood, a Chinese herb that has been used to treat fevers for 1,500 years. The chemical, artemisinin, kills malaria parasites outright but its extraction from the plant is inefficient and artemisinin-based drugs used today are expensive compared to older, less effective therapies.

To address these obstacles, the researchers, led by Jonathan Vennerstrom of the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, devised a 'wish list' of properties and set about creating a synthetic molecule that would work in the same way in the same way as artemisinin but be cheaper and easier to mass produce.

The drug they produced  — called 0Z277 — has been successfully tested in animals and the researchers say it is more effective and longer lasting than existing artemisinin-based drugs. And, as its structure is simple, scaling up its production will be economically feasible, raising the prospect of cheaper anti-malaria drugs for developing countries. The research was supported by the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the World Health Organisation. The first human trials of the new drug began recently.

Link to full news and views story in Nature

Link to full paper by Jonathan Vennerstrom et al in Nature

Link to Nature's malaria outlook

References: Nature 430, 838 (2004) / Nature 430, 900 (2004)