The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded jointly to an American-British trio, which includes Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice, for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
The Nobel Assembly said in a press release on Monday that the three scientists “made fundamental discoveries that led to the identification of a new virus.”
He said the trio “contributed decisively to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer worldwide.”
Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, according to the World Health Organization. A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Gilbert Thompson, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Lipidology at Imperial College London, told CNN: “It is long awaited. Hepatitis C has caused as many, if not more, deaths than the current coronavirus pandemic. It was a major problem and this work was a huge step forward. “
Nobel Prize in Medicine: trio for hepatitis C
Methodical studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis by American scientist Alter have shown that an unknown virus was a common cause of chronic hepatitis.
Houghton, a British scientist, used an as-yet untested strategy to isolate the genome of a new virus called Hepatitis C.
Rice, another American, provided final evidence that the hepatitis C virus can cause hepatitis.
Alfred Nobel – the inventor of dynamite – created in 1895 a fund to give most of his fortune to those who serve mankind. Today, the Nobel Prize recognizes outstanding achievements in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, peace and economics. Between 1901 and 2019, almost 600 prizes were awarded.
Nobel’s will stated that part of his fund would be dedicated to “the person who will make the most important discovery in the field of physiology or medicine.”
The main inscription on one side of the medals for the Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Literature is the same: “Favors tend to improve life through the arts”, vaguely translated as: “Those who have improved life on earth through the new found mastery.”
The Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Physics and Chemistry are the culmination of scientific achievements, honoring life-changing discoveries.
The Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry will be announced on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, followed by the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, for Peace, on Friday and the Prize in Economic Sciences, on Monday, October 12.