The Americans Harvey Alter, Charles Rice and the British Michael Houghton were honored by the Karolinska Institute
October 5, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday for their work in the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C is “a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer around the world,” explained the jury.
Methodical studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis by Harvey J. Alter demonstrated that an unknown virus was a common cause of chronic hepatitis. Michael Houghton used an unproven strategy to isolate the genome of the new virus called Hepatitis C virus. For his part, Charles M. Rice provided the final evidence showing that the Hepatitis C virus alone could cause hepatitis. .
The contribution of each of the winners
According to the experts from the Karolisnka Institute, the discovery of the virus ” is a historic achievement in the current battle against viral diseases “, in a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic. “Thanks to its 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, vastly improving global health,” they noted.
Furthermore, they highlighted that the discovery also enabled the rapid development of antiviral drugs targeting hepatitis C. For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating the hepatitis C virus from the world's population. .
The last time the award was awarded to a woman occurred in 2015, when Chinese scientist Tu Youyou was awarded along with two other doctors for her work on malaria therapies. Until this year, 3.2% of the scientific awards have been allocated to women.
Awards week will continue with the Physics categories on Tuesday and Chemistry on Wednesday. At the end of the week, the two most anticipated will be released: the literature on Thursday and the peace on Friday, in Oslo. The last two, arguably the two best-known awards in the world, tend to attract all the attention. But 2020 is exceptional, as it is the year of a pandemic that keeps the world very aware of medicine.
All the prizes include a financial prize, which this year increased to 10 million Swedish crowns -one million more than in 2019- (1,121,533 dollars) , to be distributed in the case of more than one winner.
The announcements will be in virtual format, with a minimum presence of accredited journalists in the room; The usual ceremonies with hundreds of guests, kings and former laureates, concerts and banquets for the day of delivery, December 10, the anniversary of the death of the founder, Alfred Nobel, have been abolished.
(With information from AFP and EFE)