Monday, October 5, 2015

Nobel Prizes 2015 – Medicine

There are two heart-warming things about the nobel for medicine this year, announced today.

It was jointly awarded to three scientists – William Campbell of US (born Irish), Satoshi Omura of Japan and Youyou Tu of China. All are now in their eighties.

The first heart-warming thing – The prize was given for development of important drugs for the diseases of the poor. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Omura discovered a drug called Avermectin that treats diseases caused by roundworms. One of these diseases is called river blindness. Another is Lymphatic Filariasis, a terrible swelling condition. Together these affect more than 10 crore people in the world.

Ms. Tu discovered a drug called Artemisinin for treatment of malaria, a disease all too familiar to us in India. It affects 20 crore people worldwide each year, especially in Africa and Asia. Thanks to Artemisinin, the death rate due to malaria in the children has come down by 30%!

The second heart-warming aspect of the nobel – both the drugs have been developed from natural sources. Avermectin from a certain bacteria and Artemisinin from a traditional chinese herb.

(To read further on how important natural resources are for development of new drugs, read my older article…/ecosystem-sciences-part-3-me…)

Yours Sciencely congratulates the recipients and thanks them for their gifts to the humanity.

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