College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia

Nobel Prize Award

October 7, 2015

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists, one of whom is a Chinese medical scientist and pharmaceutical chemist, Youyou Tu, who discovered Artemisinin for the treatment of Malaria. In the late 1960s, efforts to eradicate Malaria had failed and the disease had become drug-resistant.

Ms. Tu started her Malaria research at the time and collected folk remedies and ancient recipes. A recipe which used the extracts of Artemisia annua, sweet wormwood or Qinghao, was written more than 1,600 years ago in a text entitled “Emergency Prescriptions Kept Up One’s Sleeve.” Tu performed a series of experiments to solve the inconsistencies in extracting the active agents of the plant and later developed a purification method which involved using an ether-based solvent to extract the active agent Artemisinin from the plant without damaging it. The drug has been remarkably effective in the treatment of severe Malaria and has helped kill the Malaria parasites at an early stage of development. Artemisinin is currently used in the treatment of Malaria and is estimated to have reduced mortality from the disease by more than 20% overall.

The press release from the Nobel Assembly may be viewed here.

The College would like to extend congratulations to Ms. Tu for her outstanding discovery.