Nobel Prize for medicine announced, 3 win the award for Hepatitis C virus discoverytext_fields
Stockholm:The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine 2020 was on Monday awarded jointly to Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton 0for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
"Alter, Houghton and Rice made seminal discoveries that led to the identification of the Hepatitis C virus", the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute said while announcing the prize in Stockholm.
The Nobel Committee noted that the trio's work make possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.
"The discovery of the Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives"
"Prior to their work, the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses had been critical steps forward, but the majority of blood-borne hepatitis cases remained unexplained"
"Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health," the committee said.
"Their discovery also allowed the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at hepatitis C," it added.
Adding further, the committee said "For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating hepatitis C virus from the world population."
The World Health Organisation(WHO) estimates there are over 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide and 400,000 deaths each year. The disease is chronic and a major cause of liver inflammation and cancer.
Alter is associated with the US National Institutes of Health, Rice with Rockefeller University, while Houghton, who was born in Britain is associated with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.
The medicine prize carried particular significance this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the importance that medical research has for societies and economies around the world.
(With inputs from agencies)