Wednesday, October 7

1st Chinese Nobel winner in medicine saved millions

Traditional Chinese medicine has come under the spotlight again. This time, because of a Chinese pharmacologist who jointly won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine, China's first Nobel laureate in the field. How important is Tu Youyou's contribution to human health and what was the discovery process like? The 84-year-old scientist spoke to CCTV about her work.
In the medical world, it's not news that Artemisinin can treat malaria as the drug therapy has saved millions of lives over the past more than 4 decades.
But for the rest of the world, the Chinese Nobel Prize win has drawn attention to how effective Chinese herbal medicine can be. Tu Youyou, who developed Artemisinin back in the early 1970s, remained conservative about the prospects.
"There are plenty of Chinese herbal plants, but not every one of them can be used as medicine. I failed with 200 kinds of herbs and more than 380 ways of isolating the effective ingredients," Tu Youyou said
Tu Youyou began her research into malaria in the late 1960s. She traveled to remote regions of China to search for an effective treatment.
"Several members of her team got sick, including Tu Youyou herself. She was infected with hepatitis," said Jiang Tingliang, former president of Inst. of Chinese Materia Medica Academy of Chinese Medical Science.
After hundreds of failures, Tu developed an extraction method and isolated the active ingredient from Artemisia apiacea. The pure substance artemisinin became the standard regimen for malaria treatment in the World Health Organization's catalogue of essential medicines.
The discovery is seen as a big contribution to the human health.
Tu shares the Prize with Japanese researcher Satoshi Omura and Irish born scientist William Campbell. The two collaborated on a treatment for infections caused by parasites.