Medical research

Drug to treat malaria could mitigate hereditary hearing loss

The ability to hear depends on proteins to reach the outer membrane of sensory cells in the inner ear. But in certain types of hereditary hearing loss, mutations in the protein prevent it from reaching these membranes. Using ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

New anti-malaria drug findings reported

Artemisinin is derived from the leaves and flowers of the annual mugwort (Artemisia annua), and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Chinese researcher Tu Youyou recently tested its effectiveness, ...

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Artemisinin ( /ɑrtɨˈmɪsɨnɨn/), also known as Qinghaosu (Chinese: 青蒿素) , and its derivatives are a group of drugs that possess the most rapid action of all current drugs against falciparum malaria. Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative (artemisinin-combination therapies, ACTs) are now standard treatment worldwide for falciparum malaria. The starting compound artemisinin is isolated from the plant Artemisia annua, a herb described in Chinese traditional medicine.

Chemically, artemisinin is a sesquiterpene lactone containing an unusual peroxide bridge. It is believed that this peroxide is responsible for the drug's mechanism of action. No other natural compound with such a peroxide bridge is known.

Use of the drug by itself as a monotherapy is explicitly discouraged by the World Health Organization as there have been signs that malarial parasites are developing resistance to the drug. Therapies that combine artemisinin with some other anti-malarial drug are the preferred treatment for malaria and are both effective and well tolerated in patients. The drug is also increasingly being used in vivax malaria as well as being a topic of research in cancer treatment.

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