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Crop Biotech Update

Plant Scientists Boost Malaria Drug Yield in Plant

May 2, 2018

Scientists from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and other research institutions in China modified the genetic sequence of the plant Artemisia annua to make it produce high levels of a key drug for malaria. Their research study is published in Molecular Plant.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria has affected about 216 million people in 91 countries in 2016, and caused around 445,000 deaths all over the globe in the same year only. A. annua is the main source of artemisinin, the only WHO recommended treatment for the devastating disease. Thus, the researchers identified the genes involved in making artemisinin and modified the plant to make it produce three times more drug than the usual amount. They did this by simultaneously increasing the activity of three genes, HMGR, FPS, and DBR2.

Read more from BBC and Molecular Plant.