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Cheap malaria drugs boosted

19th February 2007

Researchers are improving the yield of a key herb that forms the main weapon in the fight against malaria.

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Agricultural advances are improving knowledge of how to grow Artemisia annua, from which the drug's main ingredient, artemisinin, is produced.

Growing the plant in acidic soils with a mild potassium deficiency increased its yield by about 20%, according to a report published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The drug is desperately needed to fight strains of malaria which have become resistant to the drug chloroquine.

Another project has developed ways of extracting the key ingredient more cheaply, and in a more environmentally friendly way, the Journal of Natural Products reported.


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