2020 Nobel: Three Scientists Share Prize in Physiology or Medicine

2020 Nobel: Three Scientists Share Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Charles M Rice, Michael Houghton and Harvey J Alter receive the Medicine Nobel for their work that helped define a significant source of blood-borne hepatitis.

On Monday, in Stockholm, The Nobel Committee announced the discovery that brought a significant change in the field of Medicine or Physiology by explaining the source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn’t be defined by the hepatitis A and B viruses. The committee also added that their work advances permissible blood tests and modern medicines that have saved millions of lives.

Their notable discovery has made highly sensitive blood tests available for the virus which has nearly eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in several parts of the world, resulting in improvement in global health.

It has enabled the fast development of antiviral drugs aimed at hepatitis C. For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, boosting expectations of abolishing hepatitis C virus from the world population.

The World Health Organisation has estimated there are more than 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide which cause 400,000 deaths every year. The disease is chronic and a significant cause of liver inflammation and cancer.

The Nobel award comes with a gold medal and prize money of over USD 1,118,000 (10 million Swedish kronor) courtesy of an endowment left 124 years ago by the prize’s creator, Swedish originator Alfred Nobel. 

This year the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of medical research and acknowledging discoveries like these are significant for the societies as well as for the economies around the world.

The Nobel Committee usually identifies fundamental science that has set the grounds for practical applications in everyday use now.

The award is one of the first of six prizes that have been announced by October 12. The additional prizes are for notable work in the fields of economics, physics, chemistry, literature, and peace.