Three scientists Monday won the 2020 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the hepatitis C virus, which led to the development of a test to prevent the spread of the virus and drugs that have saved millions of lives, the Nobel Assembly said.
Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health; Michael Houghton, who is now at the University of Alberta in Canada; and Charles Rice, who is now at Rockefeller University in New York, will share the 10 million Swedish krona ($1.1 million) prize.
Hepatitis C causes serious liver disease, which can be fatal. The virus is transmitted through contaminated water and bodily fluids, including blood.
The discovery led to a test for the virus, which is now widely used to protect people from becoming infected through blood transfusions. The discovery also led to antiviral drugs to treat the infection.
“For the first time in history, the disease can now be cured, raising hopes of eradicating hepatitis C virus from the world population,” the Nobel Committee said in a statement.