Tu shared the prize with the Irish-born William Campbell and Japan’s Satoshi Omura for her discoveries in finding new ways to treat malaria, the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute announced Monday.
Tu turned to herbal medicine to discover a new anti-malarial agent, artemisinin (pronounced ar-tuh-MIHS’-ihn-ihn), that was highly effective against malaria, a disease that was on the rise in the 1960s, the committee said.
Tu was praised for her research concerning a novel therapy against malaria and became only the 12th female recipient of a Nobel medicine prize to date.
Two of today’s winners, William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura, came up with a drug to fight infections from roundworms-conditions like river blindness and lymphatic filariasis that affect a third of the world’s population.
A Nobel Price committee member said these Laureates embody exactly what this award is meant to recognize.
Omura said that he has learned a lot from microorganisms and so he would like to dedicate his prize to microorganisms.
A master’s and doctoral graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison was awarded a portion of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, according to a release from the university.
Omura was studying a group of soil bacteria called Streptomyces, which also gave the world the antibiotic streptomycin. The drug is now widely used in combination with other drugs and has reduced the mortality from malaria by more than 20% over all, and by more than 30% in children.
“It is my dream that Chinese medicine will help us conquer life-threatening diseases worldwide, and that people across the globe will enjoy its benefits for health promotion”, Tu wrote in a 2011 commentary in the science journal Nature Medicine.
Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease caused by single-cell parasites, was traditionally treated by chloroquine or quinine, but with declining success in the late 1960s. “Campbell, Ōmura and Tu have transformed the treatment of parasitic diseases”.
Mrs Tu also said that it was not her “personal achievement” but an award for “all Chinese scientists”. Ivermectin, a derivative, has almost eradicated river blindness and radically reduced cases of filariasis-a disorder that causes the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis.
“[And now] she researched on Artemisinin, which is a local herb that is being used in China, and she actually extracted the active ingredients”. The $960,000 awards will be handed out in Stockholm and Oslo on December. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.
A fourth-century Chinese mystic who lived at the time when Britain was still part of the Roman Empire provided a key insight into an anti-malaria drug that has been honoured in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.
Last year, the medicine prize went to three scientists who discovered the brain’s inner navigation system.