Health Care

Explained: 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Explained: 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine”

Scientists had long known about the hepatitis A and B viruses, but they were poking in the dark trying to find the hepatitis (hep) C virus.

Houghton is director of the University of Alberta's Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute. 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.

Now, it's the only chronic viral infection that can be cured in nearly all cases within a few months, using one of roughly half a dozen drugs, Chung said.

"Now it's 1 in a million", Goodman said.

Among his many accolades, Alter has received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor granted to civilians in U.S. government public health service, as well as the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, the Landsteiner Prize from the German Society for Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology, the James Blundell Award of the British Blood Transfusion Society, and France's Inserm Medal, among many others.

Their work makes possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives, the committee said. Meanwhile, Rice worked at the Washington University in St Louis before moving to Rockefeller University in NY.

Dr Houghton was born in Britain in 1950 and graduated from UEA with a degree in biological sciences in 1972. Alter and his team of researchers were studying hepatitis in blood transfusion recipients when they realized that not all the cases were a result of those two viruses-there had to be another explanation for the remaining, mysterious cases. "Currently we can cure virtually anybody who's identified".

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Mark Taubman, the CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, also praised Alter for his pioneering work. Alter. "There are so many persons at NIH who advanced my research, but for now I can only thank NIH, itself, for creating the permissive and collaborative environment that supported these studies over the course of decades". A decade slipped by without any big answers until Houghton, who worked at the pharmaceutical firm Chiron at the time, and his team isolated the virus' genetic sequence and cloned it. Houghton said manufacturing delays have been a problem but he expects clinical trials to begin next year in many countries, including the U.S., Germany and Italy.

Houghton said there are a variety of diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, that can be treated with cheap drugs but continue to cause epidemics around the world.

Hepatitis is a virogenic disease that's mostly indicated by liver inflammation.

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and other leading academic and leadership organizations.

Often the Nobel Assembly recognizes basic science that has laid the foundations for practical applications in common use today. The prize also comes with 10 million Swedish kronor (over $1.1 million), as was requested by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, 124 years ago.

The award for physiology and medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes to be handed out this year, with prizes in physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics to follow during the next seven days. In the press conference, Professor Thomas Perlmann, the secretary-general of the Nobel Assembly, stated that he was only able to share the news with Professor Alter and Rice.

Marchione reported from Milwaukee and Cheng from London.



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