Nobel Prize for medicine awarded for parasitic disease breakthrough

Nobel Prize for medicine awarded for parasitic disease breakthrough


The Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology has been awarded jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura for their work on infections caused by on roundworm parasites, and to Youyou Tu for her work on malaria. Tu is the first Chinese medicine laureate and the 12th female medicine laureate.

Campbell and Ōmura were praised for their work on Streptomyces avermitilis, a bacteria that became the source for the drug Avermectic. Ōmura discovered Streptomyces in a number of soil samples he collected from across Japan. From these samples he isolated a number of bacteria including Streptomyces avermitilis, which was later used by Campbell in the USA to efficiently fight parasites in farm animals.

Avermitilis was subsequently modified to a compound known as Ivermectin and tested in humans with parasitic infections. It is now used to kill deadly infections including river blindness and elephantiasis.

Tu’s work on herbal remedies was key to her discoveries on malaria. Tu investigated an extract from the plant Artemisia annua that was inconsistently effective and isolated the active compound in the plant. This chemical, now known as artemisinin, can kill malaria parasites at an early stage of development. Tu credits her discovery to revisiting ancient medical texts, which she claims gave her the inspiration to focus on and purify artemisinin.

The discoveries of both Ivermectin and Artemisin had “fundamentally changed the treatment of parasitic diseases” according to the Nobel committee. Ivermectin is now freely available worldwide to combat parasitic diseases, with the committee claimed that river blindness and elephantiasis were “on the verge of eradication” because of its widespread use.

Artemisinin, which is also used worldwide, is estimated to reduce mortality from malaria, which affects nearly 200 million people a year, by more than 20 percent overall and by 30 percent in children, saving 100,000 lives annually in Africa alone.

“The discoveries of Avermectin and Artemisinin have revolutionized therapy for patients suffering from devastating parasitic diseases,” the committee said. “Campbell, Ōmura and Tu have transformed the treatment of parasitic diseases. The global impact of their discoveries and the resulting benefit to mankind are immeasurable”.

One comment

  • theunhivedmind

    Isn’t it about time the work of Hulda Clark was recognized instead of being suppressed?

    .·´ ¸.·★¨) ¸.·☆¨)
    ★(¸.·´ (¸.*´ ¸.·´
    `·-☆ The Unhived Mind


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