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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology


Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020 Americans Harvey J. "For the discovery of Hepatitis C virus", jointly provided to Harvey J. Alter, and Charles M. Rice and British scientist Michael Houghton.

Let me tell you that the Hepatitis C virus was discovered in 1982 by examining millions of DNA samples. The Nobel Prize is awarded 10 million Swedish kronor prize money and a gold medal. The award was instituted by Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor.

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was announced on 5 October by the Secretary-General of the Nobel Assembly and the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Professor of Medicine Thomas Perlmann.

During the announcement of the award in Stockholm, the Nobel Committee stated that the work of Harvey Alter, Charles Rice and Michael Houghton helped to explain a major source of blood-borne hepatitis. That could not be explained by Hepatitis A and B viruses.

Apart from this, the committee said that their work also revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and also made possible by blood tests and new medicines which have saved millions of lives.

About the three winners

1. Harvey James Alter

He was born in 1935 in New York. He received his medical degree at the University of Rochester Medical School.

He was trained in internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital and University Hospitals of Seattle.

He joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1961 as a clinical associate.

He spent several years at the Georgetown University as a senior investigator at the Clinical Center's Department of Transfusion Medicine_ before returning to the NIH in 1969.

2. Michael Houghton

He was born in the United Kingdom.

In 1977, he received his PhD from King's College London.

In 1982, he joined G. D. Searle & Company before moving to Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, California.

In 2010, he transferred to the University of Alberta and is currently on the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology and Li Ka Shing Professor of Virology at the University of Alberta (Li). Ka Shing Professor) where he is also the director of the Institute of Applied Virology of Li Ka Shing.

3. Charles M. Rice

He was born in 1952 in Sacramento.

In 1981, he received his PhD from the California Institute of Technology.

Was also trained as a postdoctoral fellow from 1981-1985.

In 1986, he established his research group at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and became a full professor in 1995.

He was a professor at Rockefeller University, New York since 2001.

During 2001–2018 he remained active in the Scientific and Executive Director, Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Rockefeller University.

About Hepatitis

The term hepatitis is used for inflammation in the liver.

It is a disease in which there is less appetite, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice in which the skin and eyes become yellow.

On the other hand, chronic hepatitis causes damage to the liver. It can also cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The leading cause of hepatitis is a viral infection, in which the infection persists for a few years before developing complications for life.

Some other possible causes of hepatitis such as autoimmune reactions are medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.

There are 5 main types of hepatitis virus such as A, B, C, D, and E.

World Hepatitis Day is celebrated on 28 July to raise awareness about viral hepatitis disease.

About Hepatitis C

It is caused by an RNA virus of the flavivirus family (now known as hepatitis C virus (HCV)).

It is a blood-borne virus and causes Hepatitis C disease which affects the liver.

According to the WHO, "globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C viral infection and a significant number develop cirrhosis or liver cancer."

It was estimated that in 2016, around 3,99,000 people died of Hepatitis C globally.

How did scientists discover a new virus?

Harvey j. Harvey J. Alter was studying hepatitis in patients with blood transfusions and several unexplained infections.

Hepatitis A and hepatitis B virus infection tests revealed that they were not the cause. In addition, his team demonstrated that the blood of these patients can transmit the disease to chimpanzees. In addition, according to more studies, they found that there was an unknown infectious agent behind it. And the mysterious new disease was called "non-A, non-B" hepatitis.

For many years, this new virus could not be isolated using traditional techniques for virus isolation. The team of Michael Houghton and he himself developed a collection of pieces of DNA from the blood of an infected chimpanzee and researched it thoroughly. They found a novel RNA virus belonging to the flavivirus family. He named it the hepatitis C virus.

Charles M. Rice then elaborated that this new virus alone can cause hepatitis. He used genetic engineering for this and created an RNA variant of the virus and injected it into the liver of a chimpanzee. Subsequently, the virus was detected in the blood of chimpanzee and exhibited changes that have been observed in humans with the disease and are similar. This was the final evidence that the virus alone was the reason behind unexplained cases of transfusion-mediated hepatitis.

Why is this search important or what is the significance of the search?

The discoveries of three Nobel laureates have helped to design sensitive blood tests that have eliminated the risk of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis. Not only this, but their discovery also helps in developing antiviral drugs directed at Hepatitis C. There is no doubt that this has increased the hope of eradicating the virus from the world's population.
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