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.