OneWorld Health, which announced the grant today (Monday, Dec. 13), will work in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, and Amyris Biotechnologies. UC Berkeley will conduct research to perfect a microbial factory for the compound artemisinin, currently the most effective treatment for malaria, and Amyris, a new biotech company founded on the breakthroughs in synthetic biology pioneered at UC Berkeley, will develop the process for industrial fermentation and commercialization. OneWorld Health will perform the drug development and regulatory work to demonstrate the bioequivalence of microbially-produced artemisinin derivative to the drug's natural form.
Malaria has become increasingly resistant to front-line medications, but combination drugs containing artemisinin show nearly 100 percent effectiveness after a short three-day regimen. Yet, at a price of $2.40 per adult course for artemisinin combination therapies provided through the World Health Organization, these drugs are still beyond the reach of millions of the world's poorest people. Artemisinin is in short supply, and producing it currently is labor-intensive and relatively expensive.
The partnership will utilize a high-technology solution to bring down the cost of treatment to well under a dollar, a price more affordable for patients in developing countries.
"This is an extraordinary partnership between public and private institutions that combines cutting-edge science with a commitment to affordability and accessibility for those people in need," said Regina Rabinovich, M.D., M.P.H., director of infectious diseases at the Bi
Contact: Robert Sanders
University of California - Berkeley