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Sunil Kumar Verma, a senior Indian scientist has triggered the debate over malaria cure artemisinin. According to him, discovery of artemisinin has won Chinese scientists the Nobel prize for the same in medicine this year, but he claimed that artemisinin has roots in India. Verma says that India had known this treatment of malaria more than a century ago.

Scientist Youyou Tu was awarded Nobel Prize in medicine this year for the discovery of artemisinin, a cure for malaria. Artemisinin which is used in malaria therapy is an active compound extracted from a medicinal plant called artemisia annua, a well-known herb in traditional Chinese medicine.

To prove his claim, Verma presented a snapshot of the book titled ‘Indian Medicinal Plants’ published in 1918 by Lieutenant Colonel K.R. Kirtikar and Major B.D. Basu, In the book it is mentioned that artemisinin was used to cure ‘intermittent and remittent fever’. It is to be noticed that it was not discovered by then and in India it was known as ‘intermittent and remittent fever’ till 1880.

“Until that time, malaria was known in India with its symptoms i e intermittent and remittent fever for which the use of artemisinin was described in above verses,” said Verma, a former Commonwealth scholar and a PhD from Oxford University, in his Facebook post dated October 7.

Verma, principal scientist at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) said, if artemisinin has roots in India then it is known as Chinese traditional medicine and not Indian traditional medicine?: However, he further added if the medicine was used by Indian and China both then credit should be given to both the countries and not China alone.