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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2007 Dec;77(6 Suppl):198-202.

Microbially derived artemisinin: a biotechnology solution to the global problem of access to affordable antimalarial drugs.

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The Institute for OneWorld Health, 50 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA.


Despite considerable efforts by multiple governmental and nongovernmental organizations to increase access to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), these life-saving antimalarial drugs remain largely unaffordable to the most vulnerable populations. The cost of artemisinin derivatives, ACTs' crucial active ingredients, contributes significantly to the high price of these therapies. With a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a partnership between Amyris Biotechnologies, the Institute for OneWorld Health, and the University of California, Berkeley is using synthetic biology to help reduce the cost of artemisinin. This article presents a description of the technological platform the partnership--called the Artemisinin Project--is developing to manufacture a low-cost, semi-synthetic artemisinin through a fermentation process. By making life-saving ACTs affordable to the people who most need them, the Artemisinin Project hopes to show that the power of biotechnology can be harnessed to provide solutions to global health problems.

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