Malaria, one of the oldest known diseases, was referred to in Egyptian writings of the 16th century B.C. In the 17th century, Italians believed that breathing bad air (mal aria) arising from swamps was responsible for the disease, and the term malaria first entered the English medical literature in the first half of the 19th century. Each year, this disease afflicts over 300 million people worldwide, killing up to 2.7 million, mostly children. Most of these cases occur in Africa, but large areas of Asia, Central, and South America have high incidences of the disease (). Out of 37 countries and territories, which are members of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization (WHO), 21 still have active malaria transmission (PAHO/WHO 1998).
Malaria has been treated for over 40 years with quinine-derived drugs. However, Plasmodium falciparum has developed resistance against these drugs in several areas of the world. Artemisinin (qinghaosu) (), a sesquiterpene lactone belonging to the cadinane series, is an antimalarial compound first isolated from Artemisia annua L. () by Chinese scientists in 1972 (). In addition to a lactone group, artemisinin contains an endoperoxide bridge, which is rarely Read more [...]