The Nobel committee on Monday awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine to three scientists. Tu Youyou of China shared the award with Satoshi Omura of Japan and Irish-Born William Campbell. The Nobel committee said that they have been presented this award for discovering “therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of one the most devastating parasitic diseases“.
The Nobel was awarded to William Campbell and Satoshi Omura for developing a new drug called Avermectin, a derivative of the drug, Ivermectin, which has nearly eradicated river blindness and has considerably reduced the incidents of a disease called filariasis. This disease causes unusual swelling in the lymph system in the legs and lower parts of the body. It is commonly known as elephantiasis.
An award of $900,000 will be shared between William Campbell, Satoshi Omura, and Tu Youyou, who developed a drug called Artemisinin, which has single-handedly reduced death rates in cases of malaria.
The Nobel committee added that:
These two discoveries have provided mankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affects hundreds of millions of people annually.The consequences in the term of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable. Collectively, Satoshi Omura and Campbell’s contribution lead to the discovery of a new class of drug with extraordinary efficacy against parasitic diseases.
In sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America parasitic worms have affected a third of the population. Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease caused by single-cell parasites that invade Red blood cells, kills thousands of people every year in which most of them are children. Artemisinin, the drug developed by Tu Youyou saved over one lakh lives alone in Africa.
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