Cure of Hepatitis C - A breakthrough Discovery - Seeker's Thoughts

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Cure of Hepatitis C - A breakthrough Discovery



October 2020 has begun with some excellent breakthrough discovery news, this year Nobel Prize season the announcement started on 5th October 2020, with the awarding of the Prize in physiology or medicine.

                                

The award has been awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice – these three scientists discovered the cure of Hepatitis C. for the first time in history, the disease can be cured, which raised the hope of eradicating and prevention of the hepatitis C virus from the world population.


What is the Hepatitis Virus?

Hepatitis C virus which is also known as hep C and HCV is a part of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.

It is mainly passed through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needles stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can be easily transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.

Its is usually infects people who use drugs and who are more active in anal sex, it is more happened to the people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.


It is both acute and Chronic it can be severe, and without appropriate treatment and care, it can cause liver disease and liver cancer, which can lead to death.

Some people get acute hepatitis, which does not lead to a life-threatening disease. Around 30% (15-45%) of infected persons spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months of infection without any treatment.


The remaining 70% (55-85%) of persons will develop chronic HCV infection. Of those with chronic HCV infection of those with chronic HCV infection, the risk of cirrhosis between 15% and 30% within 20 years.

Hepatitis C considered a major global health problem, blood-borne hepatitis has caused more than a million death every year worldwide.

According to the WHO, the most affected regions are the Eastern Mediterranean Region and the WHO European Region, with an estimated prevalence in 2015 of 2.3% and 1.5% respectively. Prevalence of hepatitis C in other WHO regions varies from 0.5% to 1.0%. Depending on the country, hepatitis C virus infection can be concentrated in specific populations.

In some countries where infection control practices are limited or historically insufficient, Hepatitis C infection if often widely distributed in the general population. There are multiple strains or genotypes of the HCV virus, and their distribution varies by region. But in many countries, the genotype distribution remains unknown.


It is estimated that in 2015 there were 1,75 million new Hepatitis infections in the world (23.7 new HCV infections per 100, 000 people).

About 2.3 million people, 6.2% of the estimated 3.7 million living with HIV globally has serological evidence of past or present HCV infection. This Chronic liver the disease represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality

Symptoms

Usually, the incubation period for hepatitis C ranges from 2 weeks to 6 months. Following the initial infection, approx 80% of people do not exhibit any symptoms. Those who are acutely symptomatic may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey stool, joint pain and jaundice.

Early diagnosis can prevent health problems that may result from infection and to avoid transmission of the virus. WHO recommends testing people who may be at increased risk of disease.


What they discovered?

According to the Nobel Committee the three scientists had “made possible blood tests and new medicine that has saved millions of lives.”

Their work has helped speed the fight against bloodborne hepatitis, the discovery has to allow allowed for the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at hepatitis C.

The discovery of Hepatitis C virus was necessary for public health in two ways, biochemist Jeremy Berg, professor of computational and systems biology at the University at Pittsburgh and former director of the NIH’s National Institute of General Medicine Sciences,

First, the discovery enabled testing for screening blood for the agent that was responsible for blood-borne transmission of hepatitis and liver cancer risk. Second knowledge of the causative agent facilitated drug development, particularly protease inhibitors that can treat existing hepatitis C virus infections and cure the disease in many cases.

Trio discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available, and these have nearly eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly i.mproving global health.


They will share 10 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.07 million. Their names are added to a list of medicine Noble winners that include 222 men and 12 women.

Is this the first Nobel Prize for hepatitis?

This is the second Nobel Prize awarded for hepatitis discovery. In the 1960s, Baruch Blumberg, who identified what became known as the blood-borne hepatitis B virus, won the prize in 1976, Baruch laid the groundwork for the development of diagnostic tests and an effective vaccine.

 Who are the winners?

Harvey Alter, Born in 1935 in New York, is a senior investigator for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. He received his medical degree at the University of Rochester Medical School, and trained in internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital and at the University Hospitals of Seattle.

Michael Houghton is a British scientist, and currently a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology and the Li Ka Shing Professor of Virology at the University of Alberta.


Charles M. Rice was born in 1952 in the U.S. and is a professor at Rockefeller University in New York. He was the Scientific and Executive Director, Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Rockefeller University during 2001-2018, where he remains active.

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