Today, the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three researchers for their efforts to conquer parasitic disease: William Campbell of Ireland, Satoshi Omura of Japan, and China's Youyou Tu.
Campbell and Omura discovered and developed Avermectin, a new drug which has helped reduce the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, also known as elephantiasis. When discussing their work, the Nobel Assembly noted, "The importance of Ivermectin (the American derivative of Avermectin) for improving the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals with River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, primarily in the poorest regions of the world, is immeasurable. Treatment is so successful that these diseases are on the verge of eradication." Animal research with cattle, sheep, dogs, and chickens played an important role in this discovery.
As most already know, Malaria is mosquito-borne disease caused by parasites and it kills almost 500,000 people worldwide every year. Using the Artemisia annua plant and mouse models, Tu discovered that purification of the plant yielded an agent called Artemisinin which the Nobel Assembly calls “a new class of antimalarial agents that rapidly kill the Malaria parasites at an early stage of their development.”
NABR congratulates this year’s Nobel Laureates and applauds them for their important research that will improve the lives of millions globally.