Malaria is one of the most serious infectious diseases on Earth. WHO estimates about 750 000 malaria-related deaths per year, mostly small children. The disease is caused by an intracellular parasite named Plasmodium, with a complex life cycle in the human body. Artemisinin is one of the most potent drugs against the parasite. The drug has a complicated sesquiterpene lactone structure with a peroxide bridge, and is mostly obtained from the plant Artemisia annua (alias sommarmalört, wormwood or 青蒿素).
The work of Prof. Brodelius concerns the biosynthesis pathway of artemisinin, and its location in the plant trichomes.