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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PRESERVATION, ENHANCEMENT, AND MEASUREMENT OF GRAIN QUALITY AND MARKETABILITY

Location: Stored Product Insect and Engineering Research

Title: Detecting the antimalarial artemisinin in plant extracts using near-infrared spectroscopy

Authors
item Dowell, Floyd
item Wang, Donghai -
item Wu, Xiaorong -
item Dowell, Kayla -

Submitted to: American Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 13, 2013
Publication Date: December 28, 2013
Repository URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.7726/ajast.2014.1001
Citation: Dowell, F.E., Wang, D., Wu, X., Dowell, K.M. 2014. Detecting the antimalarial artemisinin in plant extracts using near-infrared spectroscopy. American Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology. 2(1):1-7. DOI:10.7726/ajast.2014.1001.

Interpretive Summary: Medicinal plants have been used for thousands of years to cure many diseases, including malaria. The antimalarial artemisinin is produced by the plant Artemisia annua L and can be used to cure malaria. Artemisinin is extracted from these plants through a simple tea preparation. The artemisinin content of the tea varies depending on how much of the active ingredient was present in the plant and how much artemisinin was extracted in the tea. However, there is currently no rapid means of measuring the artemisinin content of the tea. We studied the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to detect artemisinin in tea extracts. Our results showed that NIRS can be used to rapidly predict the artemisinin content in tea, and the scanning procedure is simple and quick. Hundreds of samples can be prepared and scanned per day with relatively little training, and the process requires no consumables. This rapid and simple technique could be used in medical clinics to determine whether tea being prepared for patients contains enough artemisinin to be effective. This technology could also be used to study how the growing conditions of the plant affect its production of artemisinin and how different tea preparation methods affect the amount of artemisinin extracted from the plant.

Technical Abstract: The antimalarial artemisinin is produced by Artemisia annua L and can be used to kill the protozoan parasite Plasmodium, which is spread by mosquitoes. Artemisinin is extracted from these plants through tea preparation. The artemisinin content of the tea varies depending on how much artemisinin was extracted. There is currently no rapid means of measuring the artemisinin content of the tea. We studied the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to detect artemisinin in tea extracts. NIR spectra were measured in 2mm pathlengh transmitted cuvettes. Our results showed that NIRS can be used to rapidly predict the artemisinin content (R2 = 0.84, SECV=3.4 ppm), and the scanning procedure is simple and quick. Hundreds of samples can be prepared and scanned per day with relatively little training, and the process requires no consumables. This rapid and simple technique could be used in medical clinics to determine whether tea being prepared for patients contains enough artemisinin to be effective.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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