Net Present Value: Gates Foundation to fund new malaria treatment

Monday, December 13, 2004

Gates Foundation to fund new malaria treatment

According to this AP story in the New York Times (registration required), the Gates Foundation is expected to donate $42.6M to "the Institute of OneWorld Health, will try to turn the genetic engineering work of Jay Keasling of the University of California, Berkeley, into an inexpensive and effective drug to fight malaria [300-500M new cases each year] in the third world."

Dr. Keasling is developing a new way to manufacture artemisinin, a malaria fighter made from finely ground wormwood plants. The Chinese first extracted artemisinin from the sweet wormwood plant for medicinal use more than 2,000 years ago, and since then it has been used for a variety of ailments including hemorrhoids, coughs and fevers.

...It costs about $2.40 a patient to treat malaria with a three-day drug regimen that includes artemisinin. Many third-world malaria sufferers cannot afford the treatment, and Ms. Hale said the Gates money would be used to develop within five years a treatment that costs under $1 a patient.

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