“The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute has today awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, with one half jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites and the other half to Youyou Tu for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against malaria.”
Urban Lendahl of the Nobel Committee shortly after 5:30 this morning Eastern time.
Campbell is affiliated with Drew University in New Jersey. Ōmura is at Japan’s Kitasato University. Their work developed the drug Avermectin and later the closely related drug Ivermectin. The medications have led to the near eradication of the roundworm-caused diseases River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, also known as Elephantiasis.
Youyou Tu is with the Academy of Chinese Medicine. Her studies led to the creation of the drug Artemisinin, which has lowered mortality rates from malaria. About half the world’s population have been living with the threat of these infections. Both types of drugs are examples of natural products chemistry—that is, the efficacious compounds were isolated from organisms that naturally produce them or similar molecules and had exhibited therapeutic potential in screenings.
“The impact of Avermectin and Artemisinin goes far beyond reducing the disease burden of individuals.” Hans Forssberg of the Nobel Committee.
“By allowing children to go to school and adults to go to work, the treatment helps them to escape poverty, which also contributes to economic growth of the community. The discoveries of the 2015 Nobel Laureates represent a paradigm shift in medicine, which has not only provided revolutionary therapies for patients suffering from devastating parasitic diseases, but has also promoted well-being and prosperity for both individuals and society. The global impact of their discovery and the resulting benefit to mankind is immeasurable.”
For an in-depth listen about the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, look for the Scientific American Science Talk podcast later today.
(The above text is a transcript of this podcast)