STOCKHOLM (AP) — Americans Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice and British-born scientist Michael Houghton have won the 2020 Nobel Prize in medicine for their discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
The World Health Organization estimates there are over 70 million cases of hepatitis worldwide and 400,000 deaths each year.
The disease is chronic and a major cause of liver inflammation and cancer.
The Nobel committee says, “thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available," a development that has greatly reduced the chances of getting hepatitis C through blood transfusions.
The medicine prize carries particular significance this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the importance of medical research.