Hepatitis C Discovery Wins Nobel Prize In Medicine This Year
Antidote For Hepatitis C Is Under Development To Cure The Life-Threatening Condition
This year’s Nobel Prize winner in the category of Medicine or Physiology has been won by a group of three scientists who have discovered the virus, which is the root cause of Hepatitis C. The winners are Charles Rice, US researcher Harvey Alters and British scientist Michael Houghton.
The member committee in charge of awarding the Nobel Prize stated that the discovery of these three scientists leads to the saving of countless lives across the globe. Hepatitis C is a viral pathogen that causes life-threatening changes in the liver, which could lead to liver carcinoma.
Due to acquiring Hepatitis C in their bloodstream, numerous individuals have to undergo a liver transplant. A cure for Hepatitis C is made possible after the discovery of the pathogen, due to which they are being awarded the Nobel Prize for saving millions of lives in the coming future.
Deadly killing pathogen
In the decade of the 1960s, there had huge distress among the general population that those individuals who are receiving blood donations from the public at hospitals might acquire chronic Hepatitis, including inflammation of the liver, which might occur due to an unknown disease. According to the Nobel Prize committee, at that time, getting a blood transfusion was similarly like Russian roulette.
As the technological advancements progressed across the world, highly sensitive tests are being made to test the blood from the person before it is transfused into another individual to decrease any chance of transmission of a pathogen disease or infection. Numerous anti-viral drugs and medication have also been developed to eliminate any chance of transmission of an infecting pathogen via blood transfusion.
For the first time in the history of Medicine, the chances of curing the life-threatening Hepatitis C are possible, which has been made possible by discovering the viral pathogen, thus making them a deserving candidate for receiving the Nobel Prize in Medicine. It is expected that in the upcoming years, there is a possibility that a cure for Hepatitis C would be developed.
There are around 70 million individuals across the globe that are currently living their lives with the viral pathogen inside their bloodstream, causing an average number of 400,000 deaths per year.
In the mid-1960s, the viruses which cause the disease Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B were discovered. In 1972, Professor Harvey Alter was studying the effects and changes which occur in blood after blood transfusion in patients. During his study, he noticed the working of a mysterious infection in the blood. The study originated as multiple patients in the US National Institute of Health were falling ill after receiving blood transfusions.
During the study, he noticed that the blood sample of the infected patients, when administered into a chimpanzee, also made him develop the same symptoms as experienced by the patient. At that time, Hepatitis C was known as non-A, non-B Hepatitis, and was not properly discovered until now, which lead them to receive a Nobel Prize.
In the year 1989, Michael Houghton managed to isolate the genetic coding of the virus while working at the Chiron pharmaceutical company, which showed that the pathogen is a subtype of the flavivirus, thus naming the viral pathogen as Hepatitis C.
During his time at the Washington University in the year 1997, Charles Rice injected a genetically engineered portion of the Hepatitis C virus into the liver of a chimpanzee, showing that this viral pathogen is the leading cause of inflammation and cancer of the liver. Due to the immense hard work of the three individuals, numerous lives would be saved, due to which they are being awarded the Nobel Prize of this year.
The secretary-general of the Nobel Prize Assembly stated that he was only able to contact Professor Alter and rice to tell them the news, for which they answered after several tries. After hearing the news, both Nobel Prize winners were pleasantly surprised and happy to hear the shocking news.