Treatments for malaria and parasitic diseases take the Nobel Prize in Medicine

The Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology 2015 was awarded today to scientists William C. Campbell (Ireland) and Satoshi Omura (Japan) for creating a new treatment to combat diseases caused by roundworm parasites and to Youyou Tu (Chinese) for developing a new treatment for malaria. The first two winners will share half of the 8 million Swedish Krona prize (US$ 963,000), while Tu will get the other half.

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[Image source: Nobel Foundation]

Campbell and Omura discovered a new drug, avermectin, which dramatically reduced the incidence of onchocerciasis (the “river blindness”) caused by the Onchocerca volvulus nematode and the Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis),  infection caused by microscopic, thread-like worms. Tu discovered Artemisinin, a drug that combats the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria, significantly reducing mortality rates from patients suffering from the disease.

Campbell, born in 1930, is now an emeritus researcher at Drew University in New Jersey (USA), and Omura, born in 1935, is an emeritus professor of Kitasato University in Tokyo. Tu, born in 1930, graduated in pharmacology at the Medical University of Beijing and is the Chief Scientist at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Research.

“The two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually,” the Nobel Prize Committee said. “The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.”

Source: Nobel Prize