Medical prize honors discoverer of malarial drug

September 12, 2011 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

shares

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.