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Oct 5

Nobel prize awarded to scientist of Traditional Chinese Medicine

This photo taken in the 1950s shows Tu Youyou, right, a pharmacologist with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, working with Prof. Lou Zhicen to study traditional Chinese medicine. Three scientists from Ireland, Japan and China won the 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 for discovering drugs against malaria and other parasitic diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people every year. Tu was awarded the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has helped significantly reduce the mortality rates of malaria patients. (Xinhua via AP)

This photo taken in the 1950s shows Tu Youyou, right, a pharmacologist with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, working with Prof. Lou Zhicen to study traditional Chinese medicine. Three scientists from Ireland, Japan and China won the 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 for discovering drugs against malaria and other parasitic diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people every year. Tu was awarded the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has helped significantly reduce the mortality rates of malaria patients. (Xinhua via AP)

A scientist of Traditional Chinese Medicine was awarded Nobel prize today for finding a cure for malaria. She looked into 1600 years old record of Traditional Chinese Medicine and isolated artemisinin as the active ingredient of Qinghao. Ancient Chinese people had been using Qinghao to fight malaria for thousands of years. Not only do they know about Qinghao, they know that you cannot extract it with high heat, which will destroy artemisinin. Hopefully, this award will raise the world’s awareness of Traditional Chinese Medicine and appreciate decades of modern research that has been done in China to modernize Traditional Chinese Medicine.

P.S. Isolating active ingredients from Chinese herbs may initially increase the efficacy of treatment. However, this practice basically turned the herbs into pharmaceutical drugs. It inevitably leads to drug-resistance. In the case of artemisinin, it’s efficacy in China has been declining due to drug-resistance. Howevers, it still saves more than 100,000 lives a year in Africa. In the 80s, Chinese researchers had begun to see this problem. Researchers of Traditional Chinese Medicine nowadays have moved away from isolating active ingredients. The traditional raw herbs are still considered to be the most effective ways.

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