Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus

Published: 2020-10-05

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

Text from the press release:

This year’s Nobel Prize is awarded to three scientists who have made 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.

Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice made seminal discoveries that led to the identification of a novel virus, Hepatitis C virus. Prior to their work, the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses had been critical steps forward, but the majority of blood-borne hepatitis cases remained unexplained. The discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives.

Awarded in the midst of a pandemic, this year’s prize carries particular significance. It tells us how important it is to support and finance high quality medical research and – not least – virology research.

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