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, 58 (11), 1175-9

The Discovery of Artemisinin and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

The Discovery of Artemisinin and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Xin-Zhuan Su et al. Sci China Life Sci.

Abstract

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Professor Youyou Tu for her key contributions to the discovery of artemisinin. Artemisinin has saved millions of lives and represents one of the significant contributions of China to global health. Many scientists were involved in the previously unknown 523 Project, and the Nobel Prize given to a single person has not been without controversy. Here we summarized some key events in the 523 Project and present our views on the Award to help the public better understand the rationale of the Nobel committee’s decision, the significance of the discovery, and current issues related to artimisinin in treating malaria.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Images of partial 523 Project meeting summary (A) and Professor Tu’s 1972 presentation (B). A, The meeting summary of June 1, 1971 listed seven Chinese herbs that were the focuses at that time, but no mention of Qinghao plant. B, A paragraph of Professor Tu’s 1972 (March 8) presentation describing results 95–100% efficacy from rodent and monkey experiments using the neutral portion of her ether extract.

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