Jerusalem: A genetically modified tobacco plant that can fight drug-resistant malaria has been developed by Israeli scientists.

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that tobacco plant can be altered to produce "artemisin", an active component in malaria treatment.

Artemisin, a natural compound that comes from the sweet wormwood plant, can fight drug-resistant malaria, but due to its small quantities and high price, millions of people cannot get access to this remedy, the researchers said.

However, Alexander Vainstein and his colleagues developed a tobacco plant that carry artemisin's genetical code, as reported on Sunday.

About half a billion people suffer from malaria each year in Africa and East Asia, with a child dying every 30 seconds of this disease. Most of them have no means to purchase medicines to treat the illness.