Chinese wins Lasker Award for malarial drug discovery

Updated: 2011-09-15 16:22


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BEIJING - Pharmacologist Tu Youyou has become the first scientist on the mainland to win America's respected Lasker Award for her disco

Chinese wins Lasker Award for malarial drug discovery

very of a new approach to malaria treatment.

The 81-year-old will be presented with the medical prize by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation on September 23 in New York, the foundation announced Monday.

Tu, a scientist at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, was praised by the jury for her "drug therapy for malaria that has saved millions of lives across the globe, especially in the developing world," according to a statement on the foundation's website.

In early 1969, Tu was appointed head of a government project that aimed to eradicate malaria, and it was then she began applying modern techniques with Chinese traditional medicine to find drug therapy for malaria.

After detecting 380 extracts made from 2,000 candidate recipes, Tu and her colleagues obtained a pure substance called "Qinghaosu," which became known as artemisinin in 1972.

An artemisinin-based drug combination is now the standard regimen for malaria, and the World Health Organization lists artemisinin and related agents in its catalog of "Essential Medicines," said a statement from the foundation.

The Lasker Awards are given annually to people who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of human diseases since 1945.

Lasker Awards are known as "America's Nobels" for their knack of gaining future recognition by the Nobel committee. In the last two decades, 28 Lasker laureates have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize, and 80 since 1945.