Artemisinin and its analogs, such as dihydroartemisinin (DHA), can kill cancer cells via generating free radicals.
Dihydroartemisinin (also known as dihydroqinghaosu, artenimol or DHA) is a drug used to treat malaria. Dihydroartemisinin is the active metabolite of all artemisinin compounds (artemisinin, artesunate, artemether, etc.) and is also available as a drug in itself. It is a semi-synthetic derivative of artemisinin and is widely used as an intermediate in the preparation of other artemisinin-derived antimalarial drugs.
It is sold commercially in combination with piperaquine and has been shown to be equivalent to artemether/lumefantrine.
DHA at low concentrations potentiates the cytotoxic effects of temozolomide in C6 cells partly via generating ROS, suggesting a beneficial combination for the chemotherapy of gliomas 1).
Dihydroartemisinin showed anti-glioma activity by promoting autophagy, reduced the clonogenic survival and proliferation capacity of glioma cells, and prolonged the survival of tumor bearing mice. Using the reactive oxygen species scavenger n-acetyl-cysteine these effects were in part reversible, suggesting that dihydroartemisinin partly acts through the generation of reactive oxygen species 2).