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2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for fighting malaria has roots in India?

Senior scientist from Hyderabad, Dr Sunil Kumar Verma has challenged the basis of giving the Nobel prize to Youyou Tu for the discovery of Artemisinin

Zee Media Bureau

Kolkata: The malaria cure artemisinin, whose discovery fetched Chinese scientist, Youyou Tu the Nobel prize in medicine this year, has roots in India, claims an Indian scientist.

Senior scientist from Hyderabad, Dr Sunil Kumar Verma has challenged the basis of giving the Nobel prize to Youyou Tu for the discovery of Artemisinin, an active compound extracted from a medicinal plant called Artemisia Annua that is used for curing malaria.

In his Facebook post, Verma, has said artemisinin was a variant of artemisin and it was mentioned in scientific literature published over 100 years ago.

To further his claims, Verma uploaded a snapshot of the book titled "Indian Medicinal Plants" published in 1918 by Lieutenant Colonel K.R. Kirtikar and Major B.D. Basu, which documents the use of artemisin to cure "intermittent and remittent fever", the common phrase for malarial fever, till 1880.

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Posted by Sunil Kumar Verma on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"Until that time, malaria was known in India with its symptoms i.e intermittent and remittent fever for which the use of artemisin was described in above verses," said Verma, a former Commonwealth scholar and a PhD from Oxford University, in his Facebook post.

Verma said the "name of artemisia species found in India is Ajavayan (ajwain) that is an integral part of our home kitchen".

Challenging the grounds, Verma, principal scientist at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), questioned: "If the above knowledge is documented in the book named 'Indian Medicinal Plants' written a hundred years ago, how come artemisin became a traditional Chinese medicine and not Indian traditional medicine?"

"Even if it was used in China too (other than India) as traditional medicine for the treatment of intermittent fever (malaria), then the credit for this knowledge to the use of artemisin and its purification should be given to both India and China and not China alone," he said.

(With Agency inputs)