The Chinese have more to celebrate for National Day as Tu Youyou takes home the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her new discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria. It was awarded in joint with William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites. Now, mankind is equipped with new means to counter three deadly parasitic diseases – River Blindness, Lymphatic Filariasis, and Malaria.
In a telephone interview with the Nobel Prize committee, Tu expressed her gratitude towards winning this year’s prize.
“I want to show my gratitude and respect to Nobel Committee, Karolinska Institute and Sweden people,” the professor said through a translator. “It shows that as a scientific worker we need innovation spirit to find new things.”
Indeed, in the late 1960s, previous treatments that had been used to combat Malaria were failing and no new replacements had yet been successful in this feat. As a result, the number of patients of the disease rose steadily with devastating consequences. Turning to traditional herbal medicine, Tu successfully extracted the active component from the plant Artemisia annua and later named this component Artemisinin, which was shown to be highly effective against the Malaria parasite.
When asked if she would have time to celebrate, Tu didn’t hesitate to mention that the news was all in good timing for China’s National Day.
“I have many friends to come home to share my happiness,” she said. There was no pause before she added:
“Even for Chinese people is also a good thing, a good news for the national holiday.”