900 319 0030

Medicine Nobel

iasparliament Logo
October 07, 2020

Why in news?

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is given to three scientists who peeled the layers off the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Why they were awarded?

  • The Nobel Committee has decided to give the 2020 Medicine Nobel to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice.
  • These scientists peeled the layers off the virus that confounded generations of physicians - the HCV.
  • The Nobel Committee chose researchers who went after a pathogen, and succeeded in unwrapping the whole puzzle.
  • It cannot be a coincidence that this comes at a time when researchers are fighting fatigue in a daily battle against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

What was their work?

  • The accolades went to the three for identifying the viral origin of HCV.
  • The Nobel statement said that the scientists’ work characterised this form of hepatitis to be a distinct clinical entity.
  • They said that it was caused by an RNA virus of the Flavivirus family, now known as HCV.

To whom was the 1976 Medicine Nobel given?

  • The 1976 Medicine Nobel was awarded for the discovery of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV), and the development of the first-generation HBV vaccine.
  • However, the isolation of the HBV only partially eliminated the risk of contracting this severe liver disease transmitted through blood.
  • The circle was only complete with the discovery of HCV.

What did the Global Hepatitis report say?

  • According to the WHO Global Hepatitis report, HBV and HCV are major causes for mortality and morbidity.
  • Around 1.34 million deaths was reported in 2015, a 63% increase from 1990, mainly due to HCV.
  • The number of deaths is also comparable to that caused by TB and higher than that caused by AIDS.

What is the importance of the discovery?

  • The discoveries of HBV and HCV, and the development of effective screening routines, have virtually eliminated the risk of transmission via blood products.
  • With the development of effective drugs against HCV, it is possible that the threat of this viral infection would be eliminated soon.
  • The Nobel Committee called it among the most impactful scientific accomplishments of the 20th century.

What is next?

  • The triumph of humanity, over the pathogens that weaken and kill people is certainly a singular achievement that is worth celebrating.
  • Showcasing this achievement will send a deeply inspiring message at a time when SARS-CoV-2 virus is holding the world to ransom.


Source: The Hindu

Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.



Upsc Mains 2022