Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/15/2003
Publication Date: 1/15/2004
Citation: Ferreira, J.F. 2004. Artemisia annua L.: The hope against malaria and cancer. Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Symposium, Appalachian Opportunities, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: Production, Business & Applications. Mountain State University/USDA, ARS, Appalachian Farming Systems Research Center, pp. 56-61.
Technical Abstract: Malaria affects ca. 500 million people a year, killing close to two million, mostly children under five years of age. While malaria is no longer a problem in the United States, cancer is an economic burden that costs over 585 million in health care and kills over 500 thousand people a year. The world would certainly be better without both diseases if humankind ever gets an upper hand on them. Currently, malaria has developed resistance to most chloroquine-derived drugs and cancer, in its many different forms, eludes the scientists who try to eliminate it or at least prolong the life expectancy of patients. For over 2000 years, the Chinese have safely used a tea of Artemisia annua (qinghao in Chinese) to fight fevers and malaria. Artemisia annua produces a compound named artemisinin (qinghaosu), which kills both Plasmodium falciparum (the malarial agent) and cancer cells in a similar manner. This review provides a brief history of A. annua, artemisinin, and its related pharmaceutical drugs currently used in over 103 countries to treat multi-drug resistant Plasmodium and which have a great potential to become the new, affordable, and more amenable anti-cancer drugs.