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5 October 2020
Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice Awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2020 for Discoveries Around Hepatitis C Virus

Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice have contributed greatly to the discovery of blood-borne hepatitis, with seminal work published in the early 1970s through the 1990s. The development of sensitive blood tests on the basis of the discoveries has significantly reduced the risk of contracting the virus through transfusion. Hepatitis C afflicts an estimated 70 million people worldwide and 400 thousand people are dying each year from conditions such as cirrhosis and liver cancer caused by the disease. With the advent of antiviral drugs the disease can now be cured and there is hope for the first time in history of eliminating the virus completely.


 © Nobel Media

The three scientists between them combine almost one and a half centuries at the service of science. Harvey J. Alter discovered Hepatitis C while working as a senior investigator at the Clinical Center’s Department of Transfusion Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Michael Houghton made his breakthrough discoveries in 1989 while working at a California-based biotech company. Charles M. Rice was the Scientific and Executive Director at the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C at Rockefeller University until 2018, where he remains active.

In a 2019 article published in Vaccines, Dr. Houghton and colleagues looked into the longevity of cellular responses to two adjuvants in vaccines: "Effect of Different Adjuvants on the Longevity and Strength of Humoral and Cellular Immune Responses to the HCV Envelope Glycoproteins" (Bassel Akache et al.).

A study authored by Charles Rice and colleagues titled "Visualization of Positive and Negative Sense Viral RNA for Probing the Mechanism of Direct-Acting Antivirals against Hepatitis C Virus" (Dandan Liu et al.) appeared in the journal Viruses in November 2019.

Professor Rice held a talk on "Unraveling the Multifaceted Roles of Innate Antiviral Effectors" at the conference "", which was held in January 2016 on invitation by MDPI and the University of Basel.

Professor during his talk at Viruses 2016 conference held in Basel, Switzerland (source: ).

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