Trio awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine for hepatitis C discovery

October 19, 2020

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology for Medicine has been awarded to research scientists Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for first identifying and then enabling novel testing methods concerning the hepatitis C virus. Their pioneering work on the unexplained form of blood-borne hepatitis raises hopes of completely eradicating the virus.

However, according to the Nobel Assembly“international efforts facilitating blood testing and making antiviral drugs available across the globe will be required” to achieve this goal.

Hepatitis C drives inflammation in the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and cancer: in 1989, the scientists were able to finally isolate the genetic sequence of the hepatitis C virus, from serum samples from an infected chimpanzee and humans. Follow up investigations showed that the virus could replicate easily and cause the pathological changes characteristic of the disease.

Hundreds of thousands die every year from the disease – now, thanks to the trio, groundwork has been laid for the development of highly sensitive blood tests to detect it, along with antiviral drugs to combat it.


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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