Youyou Tu

Artemisia may not mean much to you nor Youyou Tu for that matter.

Dr. Tu – who was recently awarded the Lasker Prize – is the Chinese doctor who developed an artemisia-based drug therapy that helped saved millions of lives threatened by malaria. The plant has been known for more than 2000 years in China and used to cure diseases as different as hemorroids or malaria.

A little bit like the Internet, artemisinin is the result of a secret military research conducted after the 1950s in China which took time to spread across the world. It is now extensively used (together with another molecule) by the World Health Organization to fight malaria in the developing world.

I wouldn’t be surprised that ancient Chinese medical books help cure other diseases.