Nigeria: New Technology Enables Large-Scale Production of Artemisinin for Malaria

Chinese researchers have developed a new technology to produce artemisinin, the top choice for malaria treatment, on a large scale.

Sweet wormwood was used in ancient Chinese therapy to treat various illnesses, including fevers typical of malaria.

Nearly five decades ago, Chinese scientists identified its active ingredient, artemisinin.

In 2005, the World Health Organisation recommended Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) as the most effective malaria treatment available.

Global demand for artemisinin then increased but the quality and supply had not been stable.

According to researchers from the Institute of Process Engineering (IPE), Chinese Academy of Sciences due to its complex structure, artemisinin is currently difficult and not economically feasible to chemically synthesize.

The traditional industrial method to produce artemisinin is to treat sweet wormwood leaves with organic solvents like petroleum ether.

The extraction process is long, energy consumption is high and productivity is low.

In the study, the IPE researchers proposed to enhance the contact between the solvent and the leaves by reflux to speed up the artemisinin extraction.

The extraction time was reduced from seven hours to four and a half hours.

After treating sweet wormwood leaves with solvents, they optimised the evaporation process with a thin film evaporator, an apparatus that provides a continuous evaporation process, especially for heat-sensitive products to retrieve the solvents.

Compared to the traditional process, the time it takes to produce the artemisinin concentrate is reduced by 87.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the purity of the final product is increased to more than 99 per cent, and energy consumption is also reduced.

The new technology makes the recovery of the solvents reach 99.9 per cent, energy consumption per tonne of artemisinin drop by 43 per cent and the product purity is higher than 99 per cent, said Wang Hui from the IPE.

"This technology solves the main shortcomings in the traditional artemisinin production process and could also provide ideas for other natural products production," said Zhang Suojiang, the Director of IPE.

Xinhua/NAN

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Premium Times

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.