The case of the R+D+i Artennua project, developed by the union of forces between the Catalan biotech company Sequentia Biotech and the Canary Islands Institute of Agricultural Research (ICIA), brings together all the potential to generate natural treatments that prevent the advance of the global malaria and other diseases of high prevalence as different types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis.
It uses the biofarming applications in order to achieve these goals, which consists in the cultivation of medicinal plants with pharmacological purposes, which in the case of Artennua initially have been used for the sustainable development of antimalarial drugs more affordable and accessible.
This method has also been applied to expand the natural production of the range of nutraceuticals, animal health and dermatological products, because now the state of the market for antimalarial treatments is covered by the pharmaceutical companies and their semi-synthetic production of the active principles that fight the epidemic.
This fact perhaps is transformed in the near future, because due to the great potential that displays the Biofarming, which in addition to its productive capacity, bases its activities on ecological, sustainable and natural processes, and allows to expand the humanitarian applications in the fight against malaria toward the development of a great variety of products in synergy with the natural cycles.
This is how the biofarming gets to differentiate itself from the processes associated with the products in the pharmaceutical industry.
Discover how Artennua uses the biofarming to combat malaria and how it has managed to expand through its successful program of R+D+i its product variety through the cultivation of Artemisia annua.
Malaria is still present and makes it even despite control measures taken by countries where it is endemic, mainly developing countries in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and in spite of the efforts by developed countries to produce new antimalarial drugs that may halt the plague and the emergence of resistance to current treatments.
In fact, in areas of Europe where it was believed to have been eradicated have returned to arise new outbreaks, as in Greece where have been appearing new cases from 2009, and during 2017 in Italy.
Population control measures through networks and chemical repellents to Anopheles mosquitoes, which constitute the vector of malaria transmission to humans, reach efficiency levels of 63%, thus avoiding a large number of infections.
However, these measures are not sufficient to curb the spread and mortality, because of the high prevalence of this parasitic disease, which in 2015 affected more than 214 million people worldwide and that caused the death of 438,000. In addition the constant emergence of resistances, requires the development of new treatments based on combinations of different antimalarial drugs, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and that would be affordable for anyone who needs it.
To combat the resistances and generate more economic antimalarials are the priorities, primarily for these two reasons:
The four species of the genus Plasmodium parasite, especially P. falciparum and P. vivax, by their breeding cycles and their accelerated mutation rates rapidly generate resistance to treatments based on a single Antimalaral, as has been the case of quinine, extracted from the trees of Peruvian origin Cinchona calisaya and Cinchona succirubra and used for over 40 years as a primary treatment of malaria.
Secondly, because their current production processes follow the patterns of chemical synthesis of the conventional pharmaceutical industry, which raise the price of the products and prevent that they were affordable for their major potential consumers: health systems and the lower economic classes of countries such as India, Cambodia, Thailand, Mozambique and Nigeria, with little or no economic resources to mitigate the epidemic.
At this point, humanitarian initiatives such as those developed by Sequentia Biotech through their project Artennua, is one of the few initiatives designed to respond to the main shortcomings of the treatments, drugs and methods of production of the antimalarial drugs today.
This, in addition to programs of detection and real-time monitoring of antibiotic-resistant strains of malaria can prevent the spread of the epidemic at the global level.
There is a great history of more tha 2000 years after this great project, but let’s focus on discovering their key points:
Its initial objective is to increase the variety and the natural production of he most effective antimalarial to date known: Artemisinin, a sesquiterpene lactone extracted only from the plant Artemisia annua.
This plant naturally produces very little amounts of the same, this being the cause of the rise in price of its pharmaceutical production by semi-synthetic synthesis, and makes it mostly in the epidermal glandular bumps of their leaves called trichomes, similar to hairs.
The role of the trichomes is to synthesize, store and secrete a variety of secondary metabolites, some of which, like the Artemisinin serve to protect the plant from its predators, due to their toxicological properties, and other serve to defend themselves from different causes of abiotic stress such as UV rays, climate, salinity and drought.
With regard to the production of the active principle, this reaches its peak shortly before flowering, a process that usually have a duration of 8 months.
In this way, since 2010 the WHO (World Health Organization) has authorized and recommended as first-line treatment for the combination of different antimalarial treatments based on Artemisinin (ACT) and in its chemical derivatives: artesunate and artemether, united with other antimalarial substances produced naturally by A.annua, such as: Artemetin, casticin, cirsilineol, flavonoids.
These combinations reduce the chances of the plasmodium parasites to find mechanisms of resistance in front of all of them at the same time, a phenomenon known as synergy pharmacodynamics.
With regard to the pharmacologic potential of artemisinin beyond their antimalarial properties, «The latest research that have made several international groups have seen that this molecule has a high potential to treat many other diseases, including several types of cancer, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or lupus or inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.» Says the project’s Artennua principal investigator, Dr. Luis Matías Hernández, biochemist and in addition monologuist in The Big Van Theory, the scientific club of comedy.
In this way, Artennua works to allow access to antimalarials for all economic levels due to their method of production that is based on the molecular biofarming, which reduces the costs of drugs up to three times in comparison to the models of pharmaceutical production, and achieved an increase of up to 10 times the production of the active principle.
In fact, the researcher Luis Matias was able to triple the size of the leaf or «biomass» of the plant, which increased in the same proportion the number of trichomes producers of Artemisinin per sheet, producing an increase in production of six times its baseline level.
At the same time, also was able to accelerate the growth of the Artemisia annua in little more than 2 months, instead of his usual growth period of 8 months, which means that it has reduced production time by 3 times, thus allowing more crops per year.
This is how the «molecular biofarming» proves all of its potential for the pharmaceutical industry. Let us contemplate the relevance of its employment and in what it consists.
«Where humanism and biotechnology go hand in hand.»
The Biofarming consists in the pharmacological sustainable cultivation of plants, bringing together all the potential of agriculture, which in this case is not for food production purposes, otherwise its purpose is the use of plants as biofactories of medicines.
Among the products that can be obtained using this technique are the recombinant proteins, vaccines or pharmacological molecules, and has the peculiarity of being able to be carry out in the own affected areas through the installation of greenhouses.
In addition, the processes of production and distribution of drugs can be managed by cooperatives, pharmacies and local ngos.
It is at this point where «Humanism and Biotechnology go hand-in-hand», making that all the power of the pharmaceutical industry, so associated with huge corporations and aseptic laboratory environments extremely elitist should be moved to the heart of the nature and communities, transforming them into self-sufficient in combating their infirmities.
In this way the biofarming constitutes a natural , sustainable, profitable and ecological way of production of drugs, because also uses biofertilizers and biostimulants for proper growth and to achieve the desired levels of production, as well as comments Dr. Luis Matías Hernández:
«Our technology developed using natural molecules, obtained from excerpts from other species of medicinal plants, and that have been identified through various tools -omics of the area of bioinformatics. In this way by applying these 100% natural substances we make that the important plant Artemisia annua grows much faster, with greater biomass, flourish before and in addition produces a greater amount of active principle.»
You want to know more?
TricoPharming is not only Artennua, in fact this line of R+D+i aims to continue researching, developing and commercializing new medicinal molecules of high interest produced in the trichomes of different plants.
What other biotechnology projects do you know that what is important for its promoters are their humanitarian purposes?
Brings your examples as a small grain of sand that formed mountains in this medium of information.
We leave you with this video of Artennua in which is detailed the range of products and applications of the extracts from its variety of Artemisia annua improved by Biofarming, don’t miss it!! Enjoy it!!
Image credits: chrupka, ESB Professional, Photobank gallery, Scanrail1, SvetaZi, KTS Design, oticki, Marchu Studio, Sebastian Kaulitzki, Nataliya Hora, Bluskystudio, Design_Cells, Werayuth Tes, Creations, nobeastsofierce, 3d_man, Krzysztof Slusarczyk, Marian Wey, Lamyai, lovelyday12 / shutterstock.com / Ton Rulkens, foto de Artemisia annua CC BY-SA 2.0
World malaria report 2015, de la WHO (World Health Organization) : http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/200018/9789241565158_eng.pdf;jsessionid=519C064DA5EE1BEFD92566647651037A?sequence=1