Professor Urban Lendahl announced yesterday the first of the Nobel Prizes for the year 2015.The prize was split between William C Campbell (Ireland) and Satoshi Ōmura (Japan) for finding a new way to tackle Roundworm parasite infections, and Youyou Tu (China), who was awarded for discovering a therapy against malaria.
The nobel committee called the discoveries groundbreaking and said that they “have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually.”
The drug ivermectin, discovered by Campbell and Ōmura, has proved to be a godsend for victims of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), diseases that plague the poorest of the developing world.
Prof Youyou Tu discovered the cure to malaria at a time when older drugs were failing and concerted efforts from around the world failed to bring results. She is responsible for finding artemisinin, an extract from a plant called Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood; which is used in drugs that kill malaria parasites and save thousands of lives every year.
Dr Sutherland of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine felt that the prizes were well deserved and said, “It’s come out of the blue but we are very excited that the committee recognised the importance of parasitic diseases.”
The nobel prizes in the field of Physics and Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize are scheduled to be declared later this week.