What artemisinin is used for? Is artemisinin an antiviral?

Aug 01, 2020

Artemisinin and cancer.

Researchers think artemisinin could be an alternative to more aggressive cancer therapies, with little risk of developing a drug resistance.

Cancer cells require iron to divide and multiply. Iron activates artemisinin, which creates cancer-killing free radicals.


A 2015 study Trusted Source revealed artemisinin was more effective in killing cancer cells when combined with iron.

In addition, University of Washington researchers found artemisinin to be a thousand times more specific in killing certain cancer cells than current treatments, sparing normal cells from being destroyed while targeting cancer cells.


In their study, researchers bound artemisinin to cancer transferrin, a cancer-killing compound. This combination “fools” cancer cells into treating the transferrin as a harmless protein. Results showed that leukemia cells were destroyed and white blood cells were left unharmed.

Though there have been success stories with this treatment, artemisinin research is still experimental, with limited data and no large clinical trials on humans.

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