Received from Emile Schmitz, Martelange
Contrary to common belief the Vietcong received from MaoTseTung not artemisinin powder, but Artemisia leaves. The infusions of this plant showed a stunning therapeutic efficacy against malaria in the swamps of Vietnam. During the same years, some European scientists studied the Artemisia annua plant common in many European countries. In 1972 Serbian biologists published a paper in Tetrahedron Letters on arteannuin B. The Swiss also had been working on this molecule since 1970 and published their findings in 1974 in Helvetica Chimica Acta. The Chinese probably heard about these papers and started their own work extracting arteannuin B. The clinicals trials run by Li Chuangjie in 1973 showed surprisingly good results in humans but some cardiac toxicity in rats. In 1974 Zhan E isolated another molecule, a white crystal called artemisinin and clinical trials were run. In 1979 the first Chinese paper on artemisinin was published by Liu JM. TuYouyou was only co-author. There were critical voices in China after Youyoutu won the Nobel price. A historian declared:” I feel happiness and sorrow. This is the path of Western, not Chinese medicine”. Dr N.White from Oxford stated : “It is not fair to credit this discovery to one individual”. In our humble opinion the Serbian pioneers deserved the Nobel prize.