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Research On The Development Of New Drugs In China From Compound Artemether
May 21, 2018

Compound artemether is an artemisinin-based compound drug developed in China according to international standards and has independent intellectual property rights. As a powerful weapon against drug-resistant malaria, in the international community, some people call it "the greatest hope for the treatment of malaria."


Malaria is one of the oldest infectious diseases and it is also a tough enemy that still seriously threatens human life. As traditional antimalarial medicines gradually fail, there are currently more than 100 countries and 2.4 billion people living in malaria-endemic areas. Every year, 300-500 million people are infected with the disease and 3 million people are taken away.


The grim reality is in desperate need of a new drug to stop the disease. In 2001, WHO promoted a new antimalarial drug called coartem in the world, and it was included in the core list of WHO essential drugs in 2002. Nowadays, the drug is used by more and more medical institutions worldwide as the drug of choice for the treatment of malaria: it is not only designated as a first-line drug in 14 countries, but also the WHO as the drug of choice for the international anti-malaria aid program, and it is also approved by UNICEF. Designated as the only antimalarial drug used in disaster relief and refugee relief.


In order to alleviate the survival crisis of malaria patients in poor countries, international institutions such as the WHO significantly increased the international aid funds for the purchase of Coartem in the spring of 2004. The sale of Coartem has thus risen straight from the previous 100,000 doses to 4.4 million doses last year and is expected to reach 32 million doses this year.


On May 23, 1967, in support of the Sino-Vietnamese army, which suffered heavy casualties due to the malaria epidemic in the Vietnam War, Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Qi personally directed and deployed an emergency military task, the “523 Project.” This major project, named after the launch date, opened the prelude to the development of new anti-malarial drugs in the young Republic.


However, for the pharmaceutical industry that has just started in new China, the development of new drugs is a new thing. Where do we start from? After repeated discussions and research, the scientific research personnel finally determined to seek clues from the treasure house of the motherland.


After collecting and arranging a large number of ancient prescriptions and ancient medical records, they discovered that as early as the year of 340 AD, Ge Hung's “Elbow Reserve Emergency” written by the Eastern Jin Dynasty medical scientist, there were records of the use of Artemisia annua in the treatment of malaria. As a result, artemisia ulmoides became a "locking target." After repeated screening and countless experiments, in 1972, researchers finally extracted antimalarial compounds called artemisinin from Artemisia annua and conducted clinical trials in malaria-prone areas such as Yunnan and Hainan in 1973. Artemisinin is the first chemical product developed by New China, marking a historic breakthrough in the development of new drugs in China.


Artemisinin, which is fast, efficient, and resistant to malaria, has been hailed by the international community as a “milestone” in the history of antimalarial medicine research. It not only contributed to the elimination of malaria in China, but also opened a new page in the world's anti-malaria cause.


Since then, researchers in our country have played triumphal songs on the road to anti-malarial. They have also developed artemisinin and other more powerful derivatives on the basis of artemisinin. In order to overcome the resistance of the plasmodium, they once again “looked up”. The experts of the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences in turn created a new drug compound artemether by combining artemether with the chemical drug sterol. Compound artemether has both the advantages of high cure rate and delayed drug resistance. It can be called the "Buster" of drug-resistant malaria.


From artemisinin to artemether, to artemether, for more than 20 years, we have made great efforts to improve the anti-malarial drugs in China and reached a leading international level. We have come up with a new way of leap-forward development with limited investment.

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