Prof. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern receives Science Award for Affordable Green Chemistry

For contributing to the development of sustainable and affordable malaria therapies from plants, air and light

January 21, 2021

Prof. Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern, director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems Magdeburg, together with  Prof. Peter H. Seeberger, MPI of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam, and Prof. Kerry Gilmore, University of Connecticut, USA, will be awarded with the ACS Science Award for Affordable Green Chemistry by the American Chemical Society. The prize has been awarded for their outstanding success in developing continuous chemical processes to produce artemisinin based combination therapies, important malaria medications, from plant waste material, air, and light.

A new production process could make the active ingredient artemisinin available to millions of malaria patients all over the world. The researchers have developed a new method, in which they use substances from plant waste to produce artemisinin. This active ingredient can be isolated from the annual wormwood plant (Artemisia annua). In addition, the researchers use the co-extracted chlorophyll as a catalyst that powers the synthesis of artemisinin from a precursor molecule: costly and environmentally harmful photoactivation agents were previously needed for this. Thus, a solution of the components that have been extracted from the plant can be directly fed into a continuous reaction and separation process.

Successful Cooperation

“The team over the past six years has systematically developed an affordable and scalable synthetic process for the preparation of artemisinin and artemisinin derivatives that are the key components in the most powerful malaria drugs. The efficiency of the method is unparalleled and is significantly cheaper than current production methods. This process is green, and it is affordable. …” (Steven Ley, University of Cambridge, in the recent issue of ACS News (January 4, 2021).

The distinguished team consists of the following collaboration partners: the chemist and biochemist Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger, director at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, the chemist Kerry Gilmore, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, USA, and the process engineer Professor Andreas Seidel-Morgenstern, director at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg.

About the ACS Award for Affordable Green Chemistry

The purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding scientific discoveries that lay the foundation for environmentally-friendly products or manufacturing processes at a cost comparable to or less than that of current technologies, or discoveries that deliver new applications with compelling cost/benefit profiles. To identify and recognize discovery of new eco-friendly chemistries with the potential to enable products or manufacturing processes that are less expensive than existing alternatives.

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