Editor's Summary

13 April 2006

Battling malaria

Drug-resistant strains of the malaria parasite are widespread, and as a result mortality due to malaria has increased significantly in recent years. Artemisinin, isolated from the herb Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood), is one drug that shows a high efficacy in killing multi-resistant strains of the parasite. The drug is extremely expensive, and high demand has led to a shortage of artemisinin, available only by extraction from the plant source. Ro et al. now report the development of a yeast strain engineered to carry a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase from A. annua that can produce the drug precursor, artemisinic acid. Artemisinin can be synthesized from this precursor. If the efficiency of this process can be improved, this engineered yeast strain has the potential to alleviate the drug shortage.

NewsMalaria breakthrough raises spectre of drug resistance

Yeast engineered to produce potent drug.

Narelle Towie


LetterProduction of the antimalarial drug precursor artemisinic acid in engineered yeast

Dae-Kyun Ro, Eric M. Paradise, Mario Ouellet, Karl J. Fisher, Karyn L. Newman, John M. Ndungu, Kimberly A. Ho, Rachel A. Eachus, Timothy S. Ham, James Kirby, Michelle C. Y. Chang, Sydnor T. Withers, Yoichiro Shiba, Richmond Sarpong and Jay D. Keasling


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