Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nobel Prize for Medicine 2008

Thanks to my loyal blog reader for the link.

This is an article on Nobel Prize on Medicine.

This is fully quoted from NST


French and German scientists credited with the discovery of the viruses behind AIDS and cervical cancer today won the Nobel Medicine Prize, the first of the prestigious awards to be announced.

France’s Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier, who shared one half of the award, discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, one of the biggest scourges of modern times.

Harald zur Hausen of Germany went against current dogma and claimed that human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, the second-most common cancer among women, the jury said.

The French pair’s HIV discovery was “one prerequisite for the current understanding of the biology of the disease and its antiretroviral treatment,” the Nobel citation said.

Their work “led to development of methods to diagnose infected patients and to screen blood products, which has limited the spread of the pandemic,” it said.

“The combination of prevention and treatment has substantially decreased spread of the disease and dramatically increased life expectancy among treated patients,” it added.

Barre-Sinoussi, born in 1947, is a professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, heading up the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit in the Virology Department.

Montagnier, born in 1932, is a professor emeritus and director of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention in Paris.

Meanwhile, Zur Hausen was rewarded for his work against cervival cancer, which is sometimes called “the silent killer” of women because it is so often tragically undetected until too late.

“His discovery has led to characterisation of the natural history of HPV infection, and understanding of mechanisms of HPV-induced carcinogenesis and the development and the development of prophylactic vaccines against HPV acquisition,” the jury said.

“The global public health burden attributable to human papilloma viruses is considerable,” it said, pointing out that five per cent of cancers worldwide were caused by the virus.

Fifty to 80 per cent of the population is infected with the virus, though not all infections are cancerous.

“Human papilloma virus can be detected in 99.7 per cent of women with histologically confirmed cervical cancer, affecting some 500,000 women per year,” it said.

Today, there is not only a simple smear test that can detect HPV, there are also two effective vaccines against it.

Zur Hausen, 72, is a professor emeritus and former chairman and scientific director of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.

The Medicine Prize is the first award to be announced in this year’s Nobel season.

The Physics Prize is to be announced tomorrow followed by the Chemistry Prize on Wednesday. The literature prize will be announced on Thursday and the Peace Prize on Friday.

The Economics Prize will wrap up the awards on October 13.

The Nobel prizes, founded by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, were first awarded in 1901.

Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, died childless in 1896, dedicating his vast fortune to create “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Laureates receive a gold medal, a diploma and 10 million Swedish kronor (1.42 million dollars, 1.02 million euros) which can be split between up to three winners per prize.

The formal awarding of the prizes will take place in Stockholm on December 10.

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