Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service



2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
This projects aims at cultivation of Artemisia annua in the State of Washington to: 1) produce artemisinin as raw material for manufacturing of anti-cancer drugs; 2) evaluate the possibility of using artemisia leaves-based chicken organic feed to control coccidia infection and to reduce human exposure of arsenic-based anti-parasitic drugs, which have been linked to cancer and other health problems. Reducing arsenic in chicken feed also reduces arsenic in chicken manure, alleviating the current problems of arsenic-contaminated soils and water resources.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Seeds from different geographical origins will be tested in Eastern Washington State to establish the best cultivar for high production of leaf biomass and artemisinin under local conditions. The project has 5 goals related to the development of artemisinin-related anti-cancer drugs and their test in dogs with cancer. My collaboration with the group is specifically related to Goal #5 where leaves high in artemisinin will be incorporated in chicken feed and tested for anti-coccidial effect in chickens. My collaboration also involves the expert advice on the extraction and chromatographic analysis of artemisinin by HPLC with UV detection.

3. Progress Report
This is the first report on the progress obtained in 2010 on the cultivation of Artemisia annua in Eastern Washington. The project spans from 2010 to 2013, in a collaboration between the ARS in Beaver, WV, the University of Washington, and Washington State University. The ADODR agreement in this collaborative project was to provide technical assistance on the cultivation of A. annua in Eastern Washington for the production of leaf biomass to be used in organic chicken feed to replace arsenic-based compounds. The ADODR also agreed to provide technical assistance on the development of a chromatography-based detection and quantification of artemisinin in the leaf biomass. In the past year, A. annua was successfully cultivated in the high latitude (46.673034 N, 117.754583 W) of Central Ferry, WA. To the ADODR's knowledge, this plant has not been commercially cultivated in such high latitude. Planting dates of May 20, June 5, and June 16, 2010 provided good growth and biomass production. Although plants stopped growing at temperatures of 5 °C, growth resumed once temperatures rose. The earlier the planting date, the higher the plants, leaf biomass production, and artemisinin yield. A method using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry has been tested for quantifying artemisinin in leaves. However, the mass spectrometry system coupled with the gas chromatograph has presented problems with reproducibility and a new method will be tested this year. As the main project relates to the use of artemisinin-based compounds on cancer treatment, the ADODR provided plant extracts of two high-artemisinin clones to be tested against leukemia in vitro. The results of this collaboration resulted in one joint publication in a German journal (Planta Medica). The ADODR is also involved in transferring technology that might result in the use of A. annua leaf biomass to develop a natural feed to control coccidia infection in poultry meat production systems. This technology will help to improve food quality and safety and prevent the use of arsenic-based chicken feed still currently in use in the United States. A new ban on arsenic-based and antibiotic-based products on chicken feed is currently being discussed between the FDA and USDA. The ADODR communicated via e-mail and telephone with the PI in Seattle and with the researchers involved in this crop cultivation in Pullman in order to coordinate information exchange/updates. Also, an annual visit was made on May 26-27 to the site of A. annua cultivation and to participate on the annual meeting of the group involved in this Life Science Discovery Fund grant.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page