The discovery of the structure of DNA opened up a world of possibilities for medically treating genetic disorders. In 1953, doctors James D. Watson and Francis Crick revealed the mystery of the molecule that contains the information necessary for the organism to live, be born and develop. The discovery explained the mechanism through which DNA separates into two helices to reproduce itself in two identical molecules, becoming the basis of genetic inheritance.
These discoveries in the field of medicine occupy a place of preference in the world medical community, as they are considered milestones in the history of humanity, since they collaborated with the progress of the health service, saving millions of human lives.
- Traditional and modern medicine can mutually benefit each other despite their differences. Priya Shetty examines a rocky relationship.
- Traditional medicine (TM) deserves a revival. For millennia, people around the world have been curing the sick with remedies derived from plants or animals, knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation.
- In Africa and Asia, 80 percent of the population uses traditional remedies and not modern medicine for primary health care.
And in developed nations, TM is attracting more and more adherents. Estimates suggest that up to 80 percent of the population have tried therapies such as acupuncture or homeopathy. A survey conducted a few months ago revealed that 74 percent of medical students in the United States believe that Western medicine would benefit from the integration of traditional or alternative therapies and practices. [one]
The industry has a high economic value. In 2005, sales of traditional medicines in China amounted to US$14 billion. And in 2007, Brazil generated revenues of US$160 million from traditional therapies, part of a world market valued at more than US$60 billion. 
Desperate search for drugs
The truth is that modern medicine is in dire need of new drugs. To get a new substance past the research and development stages and onto the market takes years and the investment is enormous.
- In addition, growing drug resistance, in part caused by drug misuse, has rendered several antibiotics and other life-saving drugs ineffective.
- Both trends make scientists and pharmaceutical companies urgently search for new sources of drugs and pay more and more attention to traditional medicine.
A few achievements have fueled interest in traditional medicine as a source of highly successful and profitable drugs. The best known is artemisinin for the treatment of malaria (See Box 1).
- Box 1: Artemisinin: the economic success of traditional medicine
- Scott Bauer/US Agricultural Research Service
Artemisinin, which is extracted from the plant Artemisia annua or Chinese wormwood, is the basis of the most effective antimalarials the world has ever known.