Group annotations on this page
nightsurfer on 2009-08-07Artemisinin (pronounced /ɑːtə'misinən/) is a drug used to treat multi-drug resistant strains of falciparum malaria. The compound (a sesquiterpene lactone) is isolated from the plant Artemisia annua. Not all plants of this species contain artemisinin. Apparently it is only produced when the plant is subjected to certain conditions, most likely biotic or abiotic stress. It can be synthesized from artemisinic acid. The drug is derived from a herb used in Chinese traditional medicine, though it is usually chemically modified and combined with other medications.
Artemisinin is under early research and testing for treatment of cancer, primarily by researchers at the University of Washington. Artemisinin has a peroxide lactone group in its structure. It is thought that when the peroxide comes into contact with high iron concentrations (common in cancerous cells), the molecule becomes unstable and releases reactive oxygen species. It has been shown to reduce angiogenesis and the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in some tissue cultures.