LIVERPOOL, England, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- British scientists said Friday they may have found a powerful new medicine to treat drug-resistant malaria.
The substance, called artemisinin, is an extract of sweet wormwood that has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years to treat malaria. It recently has attracted the attention of malaria experts who are struggling to find alternative treatments for the disease.
The scientists examined the results of 16 trials carried out over the past decade and found artemisinin, when combined with modern drugs, can beat strains of the disease that so far have resisted all other treatments.
As the team reported in the journal The Lancet, based on a review of 16 clinical trials involving almost 6,000 people since 1992, they think artemisinin could even help eradicate the disease.
The number of people diagnosed with drug-resistant malaria is rising fast, the scientists said. The problem is particularly bad in Africa. Malaria now claims about 1 million children each year and infects about 300 million people worldwide.