Encyclopedia Of Life - Artemisinin
Quentin Cooper explores scientific developments.
Encyclopedia Of Life
As the tercentenary of the Swedish botanist, and father of taxonomy, Carolus Linnaeus approaches, a global consortium has promised to catalogue all 1.2 million known living species on an online Encyclopaedia of Life. Quentin hears from the Natural History Museum’s Graham Higley how it’s supposed to work, and from Oxford University’s professor of Ecology, what it’s hoped to achieve.
And deep within that catalogue you’ll eventually find Artemisia Annua, Chinese wormwood, an ancient herbal medicine now being used across Africa to treat malaria – killer of 3 million every year.
But supplies of the active compound artemisinin are limited. Plant breeder Maggie Smallwood from York University and Chris Whitty, Professor of International Health at the London School of Tropical Medicine, explain how production can be boosted to meet the massive demand for the drug.