Chi­nese sci­en­tist among No­bel medicine win­ners

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE -

China has its first No­bel lau­re­ate in medicine.

Tu Youyou is one of three sci­en­tists who won a the No­bel Prize for Medicine on Mon­day. US citizen Wil­liam Camp­bell and Ja­pan’s Satoshi Omura won half of the prize for dis­cov­er­ing aver­mectin, a de­riv­a­tive of which has been used to treat hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple with river blind­ness and lym­phatic fi­lar­i­a­sis, or ele­phan­ti­a­sis.

Tu was awarded half the prize for dis­cov­er­ing artemisinin, a drug that has slashed malaria deaths and has be­come the main­stay of fight­ing the mos­quito-borne dis­ease.

She used a tra­di­tional Chi­nese herbal medicine in her hunt for a bet­ter malaria treat­ment.

She found that an ex­tract from the plant Artemisia an­nua was some­times ef­fec­tive but the re­sults were in­con­sis­tent, so she went back to an­cient literature, in­clud­ing a recipe from 350 AD, in the search for clues. This even­tu­ally led to the iso­la­tion of artemisinin, a new class of an­ti­malaria drug, which was avail­able in China be­fore it reached the West.

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