Development of Artemisinin Compounds for Cancer Treatment


To develop new cancer therapeutics and poultry anti-microbials from a natural product

Anticipated Impact: 

New cost-effective agents for cancer chemotherapy and environmentally safer poultry cultivation


Artemisinin, derived from the plant Artemisia annua, is used to treat malaria and is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States. Artemisinin also has potent anti-cancer activity equivalent to that of the chemotherapeutic drug Taxol® (paclitaxel). The investigators will develop a new class of chemotherapeutic agents, artemisinin-based drugs, in collaboration with a Washington-based company and test their efficacy in preclinical models of lymphoma in collaboration with Washington State University. The artemisinin drugs are expected to be relatively inexpensive and to have few side effects. Ultimately, these drugs may be effective against cancers resistant to standard chemotherapy. Additionally, in work that could quickly lead to an economic and health impact, the investigators will collaborate with a separate Washington-based company to exploit the anti-microbial activity of artemisinin in poultry, and will identify Artemisia cultivars that will grow well in Washington. This work is expected to help make safer poultry products available to consumers at a significantly lower cost. In 2011, LSDF granted a supplement of $48,084 to fund development of nanoparticle formulations of artemisinin dimers. Nanoparticles are expected to be a better mechanism for delivery of artemisinin into cells, resulting in a higher effective dose for chemotherapy.

See also:

Breast Cancer Prognosis, Therapies

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Tomikazu Sasaki
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Development of Artemisinin Compounds for Cancer Treatment
Grant Cohort and Year:
2009 Project Grant (01)
Grant Period:
03/11/2010 - 03/10/2015 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
Collaborating Organizations:
Washington State University, Artemisia Biomedical, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Northwest Organic Feeds
We have synthesized new artemisinin dimers(ART-dimer) and characterized their nano particle formulations. One of the ART-dimers was synthesized in a large scale for chicken feeding trials in Mexico. Both albumin-based nanoparticles and lipid-based formulations were prepared and tested in mice for their efficacy. The clinical trials of artesunate on non-Hodgkins lymphoma are completed. Remission duration following three doses of doxorubicin chemotherapy was evaluated. From these data, we conclude that orally administered artesunate is ineffective at achieving concentrations to cause the molecular changes observed in our prior work at doses that will not cause significant toxicity. This finding suggests that potentized derivatives and alternative routes of administration will be necessary to realize the demonstrated benefits of this molecule. Artemisia annua plants produced in Eastern Washington and a synthetic artemisinin dimer were tested in a randomized chicken trial in Mexico. Both arms showed significant decrease in coccidia oocyte outputs. The arm with artemisnin dimer performed the best.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
9, 11, 34, 36, 37, 41, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Breast Cancer Prognosis, Therapies