About fifty years ago, Dr. Tu Youyou began her research in China, which led to the discovery of an improved treatment for malaria. This discovery assumed major proportions due to the development of a high level of resistance to chloroquine, the standard of care at that time. After analyzing 380 extracts from 200 herbs, Dr. Tu discovered that the sweet wormwood, Artemisia annua, held the answer to eliminating the malaria-causing microbe in animals. Her work resulted in the development of the drug artemisinin, now widely used to cure malaria in humans. The World Health Organization currently recommends the drug in combination with one or two other anti-malarials to prevent resistance as the first-line treatment against the disease. Over the years it s been used, it has prevented the deaths and illnesses of millions of people worldwide.
Dr. Tu will be recognized for her noble efforts, as she is the latest recipient of the Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, considered one of the nation s most prestigious medical awards.
As ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava points out, This is one of those cases where an herbal remedy was extensively investigated and found to have a profound clinical impact. Unlike the many herbal remedies that are touted, without any scientific evidence, to treat all sorts of conditions, Dr. Tu s results were based on careful research.