Skip to Content

Microbially Derived Artemisinin Highlighted in American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Special Malaria Supplement

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan 9, 2008 - The Institute for OneWorld Health (iOWH), the US-based non-profit pharmaceutical company that develops drugs for people with infectious diseases in the developing world, today announced that an article describing groundbreaking research in semisynthetic artemisinin has been published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's (AJTMH) special malaria burden supplement Defining and Defeating the Intolerable Burden of Malaria III: Progress and Perspectives.

The article, Microbially Derived Artemisinin: a Biotechnology Solution to the Global Problem of Access to Affordable Antimalarial Drugs, was co-authored by OneWorld Health Founder and Board Chair Victoria Hale, Ph.D., and Artemisinin Project partners Jay D. Keasling, Ph.D., of the University of California Berkeley, Neil Renninger, Ph.D., of Amyris Biotechnologies and Thierry T. Diagana, formerly of OneWorld Health and now with the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases. The article can be found online at:

"OneWorld Health, Amyris, and U.C. Berkeley are pleased to contribute to this important body of work that is shedding a light on efforts to combat malaria," said Dr. Hale. "It is critical for the global health community to share research, findings and innovations as we work together to eradicate this devastating disease."

The article describes efforts to develop semisynthetic artemisinin through a partnership among OneWorld Health, Amyris Biotechnologies and U.C. Berkeley. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded OneWorld Health a five-year grant of $42.6 million in December 2004 to manage the research and development collaboration, which is using synthetic biology to develop a new, low-cost technology platform for producing artemisinin and its derivatives. The goal of the collaboration is to create a consistent, high-quality and affordable new source of artemisinin, a key ingredient for making life-saving anti-malarial drugs know as artemisinin-based combined therapies (ACTs). Participation in the collaboration reflects OneWorld Health's participation in the global effort to eradicate malaria.

The World Health Organization recommends using ACTs as first line treatment for malaria in regions where the usual first-line treatments for malaria are no longer effective because of increasing drug resistance. The commercial-scale productivity of semisynthetic artemisinin technology has the potential to supplement existing plant-derived materials with a new low-cost, high-quality source of artemisinin and thus to help meet the projected world-wide demand for ACTs. Lowering artemisinin production costs with new technologies should also improve the artemisinin supply so that ACT prices fall significantly. Diversifying the sources of artemisinin will help stabilize supplies, preventing cyclical fluctuations in artemisinin prices. To make more affordable ACTs, other supply chain problems such as stability, leakage to unregulated markets, counterfeiting, distribution, and private sector regulation must also be addressed.

More than 40 percent of the world's population live in areas where malaria is endemic. The disease is responsible for more than one million deaths annually and between 350 and 500 million people fall ill to malaria each year. One in five childhood deaths in Africa are due to malaria and the majority of the disease burden is carried by children under five and pregnant women in rural and impoverished regions.

Defining and Defeating the Intolerable Burden of Malaria III: Progress and Perspectives is intended to create awareness of the continued need for funding and research to combat malaria and strengthen the capacity of scientists and institutions to address the burden of the disease through the research and development of science-based policies and interventions in the endemic countries. The AJTMH supplement is available at no charge in paper, on CD-Rom, and online at:

About the Institute for OneWorld Health

The Institute for OneWorld Health, the first US nonprofit pharmaceutical company, develops safe, effective and affordable new medicines for people with infectious diseases in the developing world. The Institute for OneWorld Health, headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA, is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) US corporation ( Media resources are available at


for the Institute for OneWorld Health
Deborah Schneider, 1-415-277-6973 (US)

Posted: January 2008