New uses for old drugs: The tale of artemisinin derivatives in the elimination of schistosomiasis japonica in China

Yi Xin Liu, Wei Wu, Yue Jin Liang, Zu Liang Jie, Hui Wang, Wei Wang, Yi Xin Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Artemisinin (qinghaosu), extracted from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua L. in 1972, and its three major derivatives-artemether, artesunate and dihydroartemisinin-were firstly identified as antimalarials and found active against all species of the malaria parasite. Since the early 1980s, artemisinin and its derivatives have been found efficacious against Schistosoma spp., notably larval parasites, and artemisinin derivatives have played a critical role in the prevention and treatment of human schistosomiasis in China. Currently, China is moving towards the progress of schistosomiasis elimination. However, the potential development of praziquantel resistance may pose a great threat to the progress of elimination of schistosomiasis japonica in China. Fortunately, these three major artemisinin derivatives also exhibit actions against adult parasites, and reduced sensitivity to artemether, artesunate and dihydroartemisinin has been detected in praziquantel-resistant S. japonicum. In this review, we describe the application of artemisinin derivatives in the prevention and treatment of schistosomiasis japonica in China, so as to provide tools for the global agenda of schistosomiasis elimination. In addition to antimalarial and antischistosomal actions, they also show activities against other parasites and multiple cancers. Artemisinin derivatives, as old drugs identified firstly as antimalarials, continue to create new stories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15058-15074
Number of pages17
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 19 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Artemether
  • Artemisinin
  • Artesunate
  • China
  • Dihydroartemisinin
  • Elimination
  • Schistosomiasis japonica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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