Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine 2020
- 06 Oct 2020
- 3 min read
Why in News
Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology, 2020 for the discovery of the Hepatitis C Virus.
- The Hepatitis C virus was discovered in 1982 by screening millions of DNA samples.
- The Nobel award comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor (over USD 1,118,000) and was created by Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel.
- Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver.
- It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis like autoimmune responses, medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.
- There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D, and E.
- World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on 28th July to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis.
- Hepatitis C:
- Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).
- It is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact.
- According to the World Health Organization, about 71 million people in the world have chronic infection with the Hepatitis C virus, which is also a major cause of liver cancer.
- A vaccine for the disease has still not been developed but it can be treated with the help of anti-viral drugs.
- Significance of the Discovery:
- The discovery helped in finding a cure for the disease, and effective anti-viral drugs are now available.
- Tests have also been developed to identify blood containing this virus, so that infected blood is not given to any patient.
Hepatitis in India
- 40 million people are chronically infected with the Hepatitis B virus and 6 to 12 million with the Hepatitis C virus.
- In 2018 the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NVHCP) was launched which has the target to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2030. The program is the largest program for Hepatitis B and C diagnosis and treatment in the world.
- Hepatitis B is included under India's Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) which provides free of cost vaccination against a total of 12 vaccine-preventable diseases.
- The first recombinant DNA-based vaccine for Hepatitis B infection was made in India by Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotech.