Medical prize honors discoverer of malarial drug

By MALCOLM RITTER , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- A scientist who discovered a powerful malaria drug and two others who illuminated how proteins fold within cells have won prestigious medical awards.

The Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced the $250,000 prizes Monday and will present them Sept. 23 in New York.

Tu Youyou, 81, of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing, won the clinical research award for discovering the artemisinin (ar-tuh-MIHS'-ihn-ihn), which the foundation said has saved millions of lives.

In the late 1960s, as part of a Chinese government project, Tu began combing and folk remedies to find a treatment for malaria. She collected 2,000 potential recipes, from which her team made 380 extracts. One extract, from sweet wormwood, showed promise in mouse studies. Following a clue from an ancient document, Tu redesigned the extraction process to make the extract more potent. In the early 1970s, she and her colleagues isolated the active ingredient, .

The Lasker award for basic research is shared by Dr. Franz-Ulrich Hartl, 54, of the Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, and Dr. Arthur Horwich, 60, of Yale University. Their key discoveries about how proteins fold within cells may someday help scientists find new treatments for such illnesses as Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Lou Gehrig's diseases, the foundation said.

Before their work, scientists thought that proteins needed no help to fold into their proper shapes. But in the late 1980s, the two men discovered that the folding happens within a cage-like structure that promotes the process.

"They gave the medical world a key understanding of how proteins reach their biological potential," the foundation said.

A third Lasker prize, for public service, was awarded to the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health. Since 1953, the center has been "a model research hospital, providing innovative therapy and high-quality patient care, treating rare and severe diseases and producing outstanding physician-scientists," the foundation said.

The Lasker foundation was established in 1942. Albert Lasker was an advertising executive who died in 1952. His wife Mary was a longtime champion of medical research before her death in 1994.

More information: Lasker Foundation: http://www.laskerfoundation.org

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Prizes honor studies in vision loss, obesity

Sep 21, 2010

(AP) -- Three scientists have won prestigious medical prizes - one for devising a treatment for a major cause of vision loss and two for laying the groundwork for an explosion in obesity research.

Awards given for leukemia treatment, DNA advances

Sep 14, 2009

(AP) -- Five scientists have won prestigious research awards for developing a life-saving leukemia treatment and for advances in "reprogramming" DNA, which led to a new kind of stem cell.

Canadian stem cell pioneer dies

Jan 21, 2011

Ernest McCulloch, a Canadian researcher who was part of a team that first proved the existence of stem cells more than five decades ago died this week at the age of 84, his colleagues said Friday.

Stem cell pioneers among Nobel Prize candidates

Oct 04, 2009

(AP) -- Two Canadian scientists whose discovery of stem cells has paved the way for controversial research could be candidates for the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine, the winners of which will be announced Monday.

Scientists develop new drug treatment for malaria

Aug 16, 2010

As part of the £1.5 million project, researchers are now testing the drug to determine how the treatment could progress to clinical trials. The drug is made from simple organic molecules and will be cheaper to mass produce ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments