Malaria kills over 255,000 people every year, but supplies of a central ingredient for effective drugs come from the sweet wormwood tree, the output of which fluctuates from year to year. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation have funded a project that uses readily available baker’s yeast, often used for bread and beer making, to substitute for the artemisinin supplied by the sweet wormwood. The current work has resulted in a sixteen fold increase in artemisinin production over previous yeast-based attempts. The intellectual property rights for the process have been donated for nonprofit use in order to boost production.
Researchers are confident that the increased supply of this important ingredient will have a stabilizing effect on malaria drug production, which in turn will save thousands of lives a year. Check back for more updates on this project.
Developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation