New drug

Published: Monday 31 July 1995

Malaria-cure: collecting blood (Credit: WHO)With quinine-based drugs, traditionally sought to treat malaria, failing to contain the disease anymore, scientists of the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (cimap), based in Lucknow, have now developed a new drug in their war against the disease.

Certain strains of the malarial parasite have developed resistance to the quinine-based drugs. The new drug involves the conversion of arteminisinic acid into artemisinin, till now deemed unachievable in India; the drug, while available in China and Burma, was not available here.

Artemisinin is an anti-malarial compound -- active against the malarial parasite -- derived from the plant Artemisia annua, which is now being cultivated in the Kashmir valley. It has also been adapted to grow in the plains. A new liquid extraction technology developed by cimap led to the isolation of the artemisinin present in the flowers and leaves of the plant in low concentrations.

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