Biologically engineered tobacco is being tested as a cheaper way to produce artemisinin, a powerful medicine in the treatment of malaria, according to a paper published in the journal Molecular Plant
Researchers at the India branch of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology successfully biosynthesized artemisinin at “enhanced levels” in tobacco plants that can be dispensed via edible leaves. This avoids the expense of extraction and purification of the drug, or the costs of manufacturing synthetic artemisinin, according to the paper in Molecular Plant.
“This could significantly increase drug effectiveness and lower the cost of malaria treatment,” researchers said. “Malaria disproportionately affects low socio-economic areas and children, the most susceptible to this disease, die in their millions every year. A similar approach could be extended to edible crops, such as lettuce.”
Molecular Plant was launched in China in 2008 and appears monthly. It is a Cell Press publication. The paper is available at: https://goo.gl/uWzyAd