A Very Sweet Drug

For more than 400 years, the world has largely relied on quinine to combat malaria, especially the most severe cases, which kill up to 2.7 million people a year. But a study by the medical-research charity Wellcome Trust published in the Lancet last Friday showed that an injectable version of the drug artesunate—one of a range of medicines derived from sweet wormwood, a traditional Chinese herb—can reduce the chances of death from severe malaria by 35% compared to quinine. The results were so striking that the study is likely to alter the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations for treatment of severe...

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