Submitted to: Plant Genetic Resources
Publication Type: Review article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2005
Publication Date: 8/1/2005
Citation: Ferreira, J.F., Laughlin, J.C., Delabays, N., Magalhaes, P.M. 2005. Cultivation and genetics of Artemisia annua L. for the increased production of the antimalarial artemisinin. Plant Genetic Resources. 3(2):206-229. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Malaria has been treated for over 350 years with quinine and quinine-derived drugs. However, in several areas of the world, some strains of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum have developed resistance against these drugs. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of artemisinin-combination treatments (ACT) as the first line treatment for multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria. The WHO estimates that current supplies of artemisinin are sufficient for only 30 million ACT, and is foreseeing the need for 130 - 220 million ACT in 2005 (WHO, 2004). Current research on the production of synthetic artemisinin-like compounds by the Roll Back Malaria project, pharmaceutical companies, and academia resulted in a promising synthetic artemisinin-like compound (OZ277) which is currently undergoing phase I clinical trials. In about five years this drug is expected to be approved and made available to the public, however, meeting current global demands for ACT depends on the immediate availability of affordable artemisinin-derived drugs. This will involve expansion of the area under cultivation of Artemisia annua and improved methods of cultivation and processing of raw material, associated with more efficient methods for extraction and purification of artemisinin from plant material. This review addresses the agricultural, environmental, and genetic aspects that may be useful in the successful large-scale cultivation of A. annua and for producing the antimalarial artemisinin in areas where it is urgently needed today. It also includes geographic aspects (latitude and altitude), which will help make decisions about crop establishment in tropical countries, and includes a list of good agricultural and collection practices for A. annua.