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Artemisinin first discovered by the Serbs long before the Chinese

October 16, 2016 - 08:56 -- Pierre Lutgen

It was dicovered by a Yugoslav chemist called Milutin Stefanovic.

His discovery was first presented at the Eighth International Symposium in India on the Chemistry of Natural Products, held in New Delhi, India, 6-12 February 1972 (D. Jeremić, A. Jokić, A. Behbud and M. Stefanović, “New Type of Sesquiterpene Lactones Isolated From Artemisia Annua L. – Ozonide of Dihydroarteannuin”, 8th International Symposium on The Chemistry of Natural Products, New Delhi, 1972, C-54, 221). One year later it was published in a well known peer reviewed jounal (D.Jeremić, A. Jokić, A. Behbud, M. Stefanović, A new type of sesqiterpene lactone isolated from Artemisia annua L., Tedrahedron Letters 1973 Vol 14- Iss 32, 3039-3042), The molecule was further described in 1974 (Uskoković MR, Williams TH, Blount JF. The structure and absolute configuration of arteannuin B. Helvetica chimica acta 57:3 1974 Apr 27 pg 600-2).

One of the first Chinese papers relating  the discovery of artemisinins was published much later, in 1979, by a team of Chinese scientists. Tu Youyou was not the main author but co-author. (Liu JM, Ni MY, Fan JF, Tu YY, Wu ZH, Wu YL, Chou WS,197, Structure and reaction of Arteannuin. Acta Chim Sin 37:129–143). This paper refers to the discovery of artemisinin by M Stefanovic.

Hereafter  an answer I received form our partner Pr Zorica Juranicz at Belgrade: Many thanks for the nice letter regarding the work on artemisinin, of the professors from Serbia. It is so good that you appreciate their scientific work. I know professor Solaja and he told me about this story. Best regards, Zorica


Submitted by Marc Vanacker (not verified) on

In fact, the Nobel price should have gone to the African herbalists and healers who in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe… have been using Artemisia afra long before our media and their continent were swamped by artemisinin chemical derivatives.

Recent trials in RDCongo and elsewhere have confirmed that Artemisia afra is much more potent against malaria than Coartem, Artequick, or Coarsucam, without side effects and without recrudescence.

Already in 1962 a book by John Michell Watt, Breyer Brandwyck, Maria Gerdina (ed Livingstone Edingburgh) showed that Artemisia afra extracts where stronger against PoW and Dd2 Plasmodium falciparum strains than 9 other medicinal plants.
In 1962 !