MMV supports new technique to measure quality of artemisinin

Complement Genomics gains first-ever accreditation for key antimalarial drug test.

06 Jun 2011

The innovative North East based biotechnology company Complement Genomics Ltd, has developed a new technique to measure the purity/quality of the key antimalarial drug artemisinin, and has gained international IEC ISO 17025 accreditation for the assay. This paves the way to help stabilize the price of this key compound, which is used to make the medicines necessary to treat over 220m sufferers of malaria every year.

The work has been conducted in collaboration with the Geneva-based Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) whose mission is to reduce the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and facilitating delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalaria drugs.

Artemisinin is extracted from the herb Sweet Wormwood or Artemisia annua and which is grown around the world, with major producers in China, India and Africa. This medicine is further developed into a class of highly effective, well-tolerated antimalarial treatments which have transformed the prospects for malaria sufferers. Each producer and buyer currently uses different in-house assay methods, which can give variable results; this leads to inefficiencies within the system and insecurity with respect to pricing. This can negatively affect the decision to plant A.annua, as other crops often have a more stable market. The consequence of this is uncertainty over the future supply of this key medicine.

Complement Genomics CEO Louise Allcroft said, "This is a milestone for the industry. It is the first time any assay for this drug has been accredited to this high standard".

Dr Ian Bathurst, Director of Drug Discovery at MMV in Geneva said, "We are pleased to have been able to help support this work, which will certainly make a valuable contribution to the supply chain of artemisinin. It is vital that high quality supplies of this medicine continue to flow smoothly to drug manufacturers. Millions of lives depend on it. We encourage all relevant growers, extractors, API producers and pharmaceutical partners to join with Complement Genomics in developing a unified benchmark for artemisinin and API analysis".