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Tu Youyou first isolated in the 1970's artemisinin,[1] an antimalarial agent from the artemisins derived from the herb Artemisia annua, a herb long used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat malaria (known as Qinghao or Qinghaosu; 青蒿). The story of the (re)discovery is recounted by Dr Tu in a Nature Medicine article.[2] It is recommended for use in areas where chloroquine-resistant falciparum infections are endemic.[3]

It may be combined with other agents in ACT (artemisinin-based combination therapy),[4] e.g. lumefantrine (to give co-arthemether, Riamet® in the UK) to prevent development of resistance.

However, resistance to the drug has been described in Cambodia[5][6] and is increasing.


Have been described.[7]


  1. Antimalaria studies on Qinghaosu. Chinese medical journal. 1979 Dec; 92(12):811-6.
  2. Tu Y. The discovery of artemisinin (qinghaosu) and gifts from Chinese medicine. Nature medicine. 2011 Oct; 17(10):1217-20.(Epub) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  3. Nosten F, White NJ. Artemisinin-based combination treatment of falciparum malaria. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene. 2007 Dec; 77(6 Suppl):181-92.
  4. Osorio L, Gonzalez I, Olliaro P, Taylor WR. Artemisinin-based combination therapy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Colombia. Malaria journal. 2007; 6:25.(Epub) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  5. Noedl H, Se Y, Schaecher K, Smith BL, Socheat D, Fukuda MM. Evidence of artemisinin-resistant malaria in western Cambodia. The New England journal of medicine. 2008 Dec 11; 359(24):2619-20.(Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  6. Dondorp AM, Nosten F, Yi P, Das D, Phyo AP, Tarning J, Lwin KM, Ariey F, Hanpithakpong W, Lee SJ, Ringwald P, Silamut K, Imwong M, Chotivanich K, Lim P, Herdman T, An SS, Yeung S, Singhasivanon P, Day NP, Lindegardh N, Socheat D, White NJ. Artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. The New England journal of medicine. 2009 Jul 30; 361(5):455-67.(Link to article – subscription may be required.)
  7. Orrell C, Little F, Smith P, Folb P, Taylor W, Olliaro P, Barnes KI. Pharmacokinetics and tolerability of artesunate and amodiaquine alone and in combination in healthy volunteers. European journal of clinical pharmacology. 2008 Apr 16.(Epub ahead of print) (Link to article – subscription may be required.)