Three scientists win Nobel Prize in Medicine for Hep C discovery

Oct. 5, 2020

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.

The three scientists will share the $1.1 million prize awarded by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. According to the assembly, the scientists 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. 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.

Currently, Harvey Alter is at the National Institutes of Health; Michael Houghton is now at the University of Alberta in Canada; and Charles Rice is now at Rockefeller University in New York.

"The Nobel Laureates’ discovery of Hepatitis C virus is a landmark achievement in the ongoing battle against viral diseases (Figure 2). Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health," the assembly said in a statement.

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