The Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam (Germany) will collaborate with ArtemiLife Inc., a company based in the United States and with medical researchers in Denmark and Germany to test Artemisia annua plant extract and derivatives artemisinin in laboratory cell studies against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID19).

Currently, there are no effective treatments for COVID-19 .

Commonly used drugs against malaria or Ebola, as well as antiviral drugs, are being considered for reuse against this new pandemic.

Among these are also herbal treatments, commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine , which have already been used successfully in the past, to treat coronavirus infections during SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV outbreaks .

Early studies in China showed that Artemisia annua alcoholic extract was the second most potent herbal medicine used to treat SARS in 2005 .

“I am excited about the international collaboration of scientists from the academic and private sectors to conduct study tests on Artemisia annua cells against coronavirus.” 

Said Professor Peter H. Seeberger , director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam.

COVID-19 disease is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome due to infection with Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), a single-stranded RNA virus that is highly contagious to humans. 

This virus (SARS-CoV-2) is part of the same Coronavirus family, implicated in the SARS epidemic in early 2000 .

SARS-CoV-2 is unique among known beta-coronaviruses in its incorporation of a polybasic cleavage site, a feature known to increase pathogenicity and transmissibility in other viruses.

“Given the similarities between these two viruses, plant extracts and artemisinin derivatives can be tested against the novel coronavirus and this international collaboration makes it possible.”

Continued prof. Seeberger.

Cell study tests will be conducted in research institutes in Denmark and Germany with Artemisia annua plant extract and pure derivatives isolated from the plant, such as artemisinin .

Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative and artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are now standard treatments worldwide for the treatment of Malaria . 

Artemisia annua extracts show very low toxicity to humans and artemisinin-based drugs are widely used to treat malaria even in infants.

ArtemiLife Inc., a US-based company, is providing the plant material needed for the studies.

 “We have studied Artemisia annua and cultivated our fields with agriculture experts in Kentucky for the past few years. We are privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in these studies. “

Adam J Maust, CEO of ArtemiLife Inc.

The Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces was founded in 1992 and is divided into four departments (biomaterials, biomolecular systems, colloidal chemistry, theory and biosystems).

Current research topics include polymer films, membranes, organic and inorganic nanostructures, microcapsules, biomineralization, nano and microreactors, molecular motors and filaments, chemistry and biology of carbohydrates. 

The Department of Biomolecular Systems has been studying, among other things, the production and use of artemisinin and its derivatives for almost a decade .

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ArtemiLife Inc.

ArtemiLife Inc. is developing and planning the commercialization of Artemisia annual products. ArtemiLife Inc. blends cutting-edge science with organic pesticide-free farming techniques in the United States.

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