Navigation Links
Anti-malaria drug synthesized with the help of oxygen and light
Date:1/17/2012

This release is available in German.

The most effective anti-malaria drug can now be produced inexpensively and in large quantities. This means that it will be possible to provide medication for the 225 million malaria patients in developing countries at an affordable price. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and the Freie Universitt Berlin have developed a very simple process for the synthesis of artemisinin, the active ingredient that pharmaceutical companies could only obtain from plants up to now. The chemists use a waste product from current artemisinin production as their starting substance. This substance can also be produced biotechnologically in yeast, which the scientists convert into the active ingredient using a simple yet very ingenious method.

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. Millions, especially in the developing world, cannot afford the combination drug preparation, which consists mainly of artemisinin. Moreover, the price for the medication varies, as this substance is isolated from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) which grows mainly in China and Vietnam, and varies seasonally in its availability. To make the drug affordable for at least some patients in developing countries, the Clinton Foundation, for example, subsidises its cost to the tune of several million dollars per year. Nevertheless, over one million people die of malaria each year because they do not have access to effective drugs.

This may be about to change. Peter H. Seeberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and Professor of Chemistry at the Freie Universitt Berlin and his colleague Franois Lvesque have discovered a very simple way of synthesising the artemisinin molecule, which is known as an anti-malaria drug from traditional Chinese medicine and has an extremely complex chemical structure. "The production of the drug is therefore no longer dependent on obtaining the active ingredient from plants," says Peter Seeberger.

Synthesis from a by-product of artemisinin production

As a starting point, the chemists use artemisinic acid a substance produced as a hitherto unused by-product from the isolation of artemisinin from sweet wormwood, which is produced in volumes ten times greater than the active ingredient itself. Moreover, artemisinic acid can easily be produced in genetically modified yeast as it has a much simpler structure. "We convert the artemisinic acid into artemisinin in a single step," says Peter Seeberger. "And we have developed a simple apparatus for this process, which enables the production of large volumes of the substance under very controlled conditions." The only reaction sequence known up to now 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.

The striking simplification of artemisinin synthesis required not only a keen sense for an elegant combination of the correct partial reactions to enable the process to take place in a single step; it also took a degree of courage, as the chemists departed from the paths typically taken by industry up to now. The effect of the molecule, which not only targets malaria but possibly also other infections and even breast cancer, is due to, among other things, a very reactive chemical group formed by two neighbouring oxygen atoms which chemists refer to as an endoperoxide. Peter Seeberger and Franois Lvesque use photochemistry to incorporate this structural element into the artemisinic acid. Ultraviolet light converts oxygen into a form that can react with molecules to form peroxides.

800 photoreactors should suffice to cover the global requirement for artemisinin

"Photochemistry is a simple and cost-effective method. However, the pharmaceutical industry has not used it to date because it was so difficult to control and implement on a large scale," explains Peter Seeberger. In the large reaction vessels with which industrial manufacturers work, flashes of light do not penetrate deeply enough from outside and the reactive form of oxygen is not produced in sufficient volumes. The Potsdam-based scientists have succeeded in resolving this problem using an ingenious trick: They channel the reaction mixture containing all of the required ingredients through a thin tube that they have wrapped around a UV lamp. In this structure, the light penetrates the entire reaction medium and triggers the chemical conversion process with optimum efficiency.

"The fact that we do not carry out the synthesis as a one-pot reaction in a single vessel, but in a continuous-flow reactor enables us to define the reaction conditions down to the last detail," explains Peter Seeberger. After just four and a half minutes a solution flows out of the tube, in which 40 percent of the artemisinic acid has become artemisinin.

"We assume that 800 of our simple photoreactors would suffice to cover the global requirement for artemisinin," says Peter Seeberger. And it could all happen very quickly. Peter Seeberger estimates that the innovative synthesis process could be ready for technical use in a matter of six months. This would alleviate the global shortage of artemisinin and exert considerable downward pressure on the price of the associated drugs.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Peter Seeberger
peter.seeberger@mpikg.mpg.de
49-331-567-9301
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Synthetic biology can help extend anti-malaria drug effectiveness
2. New nano-tool synthesized at Scripps Research Institute
3. Path to oxygen in Earths atmosphere: long series of starts and stops
4. How plants sense low oxygen levels to survive flooding
5. New evidence for the oldest oxygen-breathing life on land
6. Discovery suggests way to block fetal brain damage produced by oxygen deprivation
7. MIT: Oxygens watery past
8. Climate change could turn oxygen-free seas from blessing to curse for zooplankton
9. Oceans harmful low-oxygen zones growing, are sensitive to small changes in climate
10. Johns Hopkins researchers link cell division and oxygen levels
11. Beneficial bacteria help repair intestinal injury by inducing reactive oxygen species
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Anti-malaria drug synthesized with the help of oxygen and light
(Date:7/20/2017)... DAL ) customers now can use fingerprints instead of their boarding ... ... biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that launched in May at the ... to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members who are enrolled in CLEAR to ...
(Date:6/14/2017)... PARIS , June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ... the international tech event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups ... on June 15-17. During the event, nine startups will ... deliver value in various industries. ... in the international market, with a 30 percent increase in ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... , May 16, 2017   Bridge ... health organizations, and MD EMR Systems , ... development partner for GE, have established a partnership ... Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, including ... EMR. These new integrations will ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... President Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief ... ), Inc. has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Palo Alto, CA, USA (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... is set to take place on 7th and 8th June 2018 in San Francisco, ... and policy influencers as well as several distinguished CEOs, board directors and government officials ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. 11, ... Research, London (ICR) and University of ... SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma (MM), ... nine . The University of Leeds ... funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will perform the testing ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Singh Biotechnology today ... designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3) ... able to cross the cell membrane and bind intracellular STAT3 and inhibit its ...
Breaking Biology Technology: