Hepatitis C virus discovery takes Nobel Prize in medicine for 2020

Hepatitis C discovery takes 2020 Nobel Prize in medicine

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The Nobel Assembly on Monday awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine to a trio of scientists hailing from the United States and the United Kingdom for their breakthrough discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

In announcing the 2020 award, the Nobel Assembly said the work of Dr. Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice “made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives,” The New York Times reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the assembly characterized the joint discovery as a “landmark achievement in our ongoing battle against viral infections” and applauded the trio for making “a decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem that causes cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world.”

Content Continues Below

The hepatitis C discovery is notable because it helps explain the origins of blood-borne hepatitis cases ruled out as hepatitis B that have puzzled researchers since the 1970s, the Journal reported.

According to the Times, Alter is an American medical researcher for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland; Britain -born Houghton is the Li Ka Shing professor of virology at the University of Alberta, Canada and director of the university’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute at the university; and Rice is a professor at Rockefeller University in New York, who served seven years as the scientific and executive director at the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at the university.

Thomas Perlmann, secretary general of the Nobel Assembly, said, “It’s hard to find something that is of such benefit to mankind,” as the work done for this year’s prize. “It’s the discovery of a virus that has led to improvements for millions of people around the world,” he said, according to the Journal.

Read about the other 2020 Nobel laureates below: