The Antiviral Activities of Artemisinin and Artesunate


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Abstract

Traditional Chinese medicine commands a unique position among all traditional medicines because of its 5000 years of history. Our own interest in natural products from traditional Chinese medicine was triggered in the 1990s, by artemisinin-type sesquiterpene lactones from Artemisia annua L. As demonstrated in recent years, this class of compounds has activity against malaria, cancer cells, and schistosomiasis. Interestingly, the bioactivity of artemisinin and its semisynthetic derivative artesunate is even broader and includes the inhibition of certain viruses, such as human cytomegalovirus and other members of the Herpesviridae family (e.g., herpes simplex virus type 1 and Epstein-Barr virus), hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and bovine viral diarrhea virus. Analysis of the complete profile of the pharmacological activities and molecular modes of action of artemisinin and artesunate and their performance in clinical trials will further elucidate the full antimicrobial potential of these versatile pharmacological tools from nature.

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