A polymeric adsorbent for extraction of the antimalarial drug artemisinin from Artemisia annua L. was computationally designed. This polymer demonstrated a high capacity for artemisinin (120 mg g−1), quantitative recovery (87%) and was found to be an effective material for purification of artemisinin from complex plant matrix. The artemisinin quantification was conducted using an optimised HPLC-MS protocol, which was characterised by high precision and linearity in the concentration range between 0.05 and 2 μg mL−1. Optimisation of the purification protocol also involved screening of commercial adsorbents for the removal of waxes and other interfering natural compounds, which inhibit the crystallisation of artemisinin. As a result of a two step-purification protocol crystals of artemisinin were obtained, and artemisinin purity was evaluated as 75%. By performing the second stage of purification twice, the purity of artemisinin can be further improved to 99%. The developed protocol produced high-purity artemisinin using only a few purification steps that makes it suitable for large scale industrial manufacturing process.
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