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Genetic breakthrough offers malaria hope

THE genetic code of the plant that provides the most effective treatment for malaria has been cracked by scientists, raising the prospect of cheaper and more plentiful drugs against a disease that kills about a million people each year, writes Mark Henderson.

The achievement by British researchers will assist the development of higher-yielding varieties of the sweet wormwood plant Artemisia annua that addresses a global shortage of the drug artemisinin and reduces its cost.

Artemisinin combination therapies, in which the drug is given in combination with older anti-malarial treatments, are recommended by the World Health Organisation. Current levels of artemisinin production are insufficient.

The genetic map was drawn up a team led by Dianna Bowles and Ian Graham, of the University of York in England. (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent