Her research was influenced by an ancient Chinese Medicine text called The Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments, written in 340 BC by Ge Hong, which noted that a herb called sweet wormwood (青蒿) was particularly effective in treating malaria since 400 AD. Sweet wormwood is the active ingredient in artemisinin, which has now become one of the most commonly used treatments for malaria around the world, recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Sweet wormwood is a type of plant native to Asia, and can be used to treat other illnesses such as fever and asthma.
The Nobel Prize was jointly shared between Tu Youyou and William C Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura, who was commended for their research in tackling parasitic roundworm infections.
Find out more about Tu Youyou here.