2020 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M.
Rice, In recognition of their work in the field of hepatitis C virus .

   Interpretation of official authority : This year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

  10 month 5 day , According to the official website of the Nobel Prize ,2020 The Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded to Harvey J· Art (Harvey J.
Alter), Michael · Horton (Michael Houghton) And Charles M· Rice (Charles M. Rice), In recognition of them “ Detection of hepatitis C virus ”.

   This year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to three scientists who have made decisive contributions to the fight against blood borne hepatitis . Blood borne hepatitis is a major global health problem , The disease can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer in people around the world .

   Harvey J· Art , Michael · Horton and Charles
M· Rice's great discovery , The identification of hepatitis C virus . Before this discovery , Important progress has been made in the discovery of hepatitis A and hepatitis B virus , However, most cases of hematogenous hepatitis are still unexplained . Discovery of hepatitis C virus , It not only reveals the etiology of other chronic hepatitis cases , It also makes possible blood testing and the development of new drugs , To save millions of lives .

   hepatitis —— Global threat to human health

   Liver inflammation , Or hepatitis , It is mainly caused by virus infection , Alcoholism , Environmental toxins and autoimmune diseases are also important causes .20 century 40
years , It is well recognized that there are two main types of infectious hepatitis . The first is hepatitis A , Spread by contaminated water or food , There is usually no long-term impact on the patient . The second type , It is transmitted through blood and body fluids , The threat is greater , Because it can lead to chronic diseases , Liver cirrhosis and liver cancer ( chart 1). This type of hepatitis is latent , Because before serious complications , People may have been infected for years . The incidence rate and mortality rate of hematogenous hepatitis are very high. , Every year in the world
100 More than ten thousand people died , This makes it a global health problem comparable to HIV infection and tuberculosis .

Illustrations : There are two main forms of hepatitis . One is an acute disease caused by hepatitis A virus , Spread by contaminated water or food . The other is caused by hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus ( This year's Nobel Prize ) Caused by . This blood borne hepatitis is usually a chronic disease , It can develop into cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma .

   An unknown infectious factor

   To successfully intervene in infectious diseases , The key is to identify the pathogen . stay 20 century 60 years , Baruch · Blumberg (Baruch
Blumberg) It was determined that a blood borne hepatitis was caused by a virus called hepatitis B virus , This discovery led to the development of diagnostic tests and effective vaccines . Because of this discovery , Blumberg in 1976
He won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine .

   at that time , Harvey of the National Institutes of health
J· Arter is studying the incidence of hepatitis in blood transfusion patients . Despite the blood tests for the newly discovered hepatitis B virus , The number of hepatitis cases related to blood transfusion was reduced , But arter and his colleagues confirmed , There are still a large number of cases . in the meantime , Detection of hepatitis A virus infection has also been developed , But obviously , Hepatitis A is not the cause of these unknown cases .

   Many people who receive blood transfusions , Because of an unknown source of infection , And develop into chronic hepatitis . This is a matter of great concern . Art and his colleagues found that , The blood of these hepatitis patients may transmit the disease to chimpanzees , Chimpanzees are the only susceptible hosts except humans . Subsequent studies also showed that , The unknown source of infection has the characteristics of virus . Arter conducted a systematic investigation based on this , Thus a new type of , Unique chronic viral hepatitis . This mysterious disease is called “ Non a type , Non B ” hepatitis .

   Identification of hepatitis C virus

   It is urgent to identify this new virus . All traditional virus search techniques are used , But for all that , The virus has not been identified for more than a decade . Isolation of viral gene sequence is a difficult task , For pharmaceutical companies
Chiron Michael at work · Horton accepted the challenge . Horton and his colleagues extracted a set of nucleic acids from the blood of an infected chimpanzee DNA
fragment . Most of these fragments come from chimpanzees' own genomes , But the researchers predict , Some of the fragments may have come from this unknown virus . It is assumed that there are antiviral antibodies in the blood of patients with hepatitis , The researchers used the patient's serum to identify cloned viruses that encode viral proteins
DNA fragment . After a comprehensive search , A positive clone was found . Further research shows that , The clone is from a new flavivirus genus RNA
virus , It's called hepatitis C virus . Antibody in patients with chronic hepatitis , It strongly suggests that this virus is the missing pathogen mentioned above .

Illustrations : Harvey
J· Alter's systematic study of transfusion related hepatitis showed that , An unknown virus is a common cause of chronic hepatitis . Michael · Horton used an unproven strategy , The genome of a new virus called hepatitis C virus was isolated . charles
M· Rice provided the final evidence , This suggests that hepatitis C virus alone can cause hepatitis .

   The discovery of hepatitis C virus has been confirmed , But there's another question , Can hepatitis be caused by this virus alone ? To answer this question , Scientists must investigate whether the cloned virus can replicate and cause disease . Charles, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis
M· Rice , And other research RNA
Virus team together , Note a previously unidentified region at the end of the HCV genome , They suspect that this area may be important for virus replication . Rice also observed genetic variation in isolated virus samples , It is assumed that some of them may hinder virus replication . Through genetic engineering , Rice produces hepatitis C virus
RNA variation , These include newly identified viral genome regions , There was no inactivated gene mutation . When this RNA
After being injected into the chimpanzee's liver , Scientists detected the virus in its blood , The pathological changes similar to those of human with chronic diseases were observed . This is the final evidence , It is proved that hepatitis C virus alone can cause transfusion mediated hepatitis .

   The significance of this discovery

   The discovery of hepatitis C virus by the three Nobel Prize winners , It is a milestone in the fight against viral diseases ( chart 2). Because of the discovery , We can now carry out a highly sensitive blood test for the virus . This type of testing basically eliminates post transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world , Greatly improved global health . The discovery also led to the rapid development of antiviral drugs for hepatitis C . This is the first time in history , The disease is now curable , This brings hope for the eradication of hepatitis C virus . To achieve this goal , We need international efforts , To facilitate blood testing , And provide antiviral drugs to the world ( chart 3).

Illustrations : The discoveries of the three Nobel laureates , Make the design of sensitive blood detection possible , This eliminates the risk of transfusion transmitted hepatitis in most parts of the world . This breakthrough also promoted the development of antiviral drugs to cure the disease . Hepatitis C remains a major global health problem , But now , We have a chance to eliminate the disease .

   Brief introduction of the three winners

   Harvey J· Art , to 1935 Born in New York in . Arter received a medical degree from the University of Rochester School of medicine , He received internal medicine training at the strong Memorial Hospital and the University of Seattle hospital .1961
year , Arter joined the National Institutes of health as a clinical assistant . Art spent several years at Georgetown University , Then in 1969 He returned to the National Institutes of health , Department of transfusion medicine in clinical center , As senior researcher .

   Michael · Horton , Born in England .1977 year , Horton received his doctorate from King's College London . Horton joined in succession G.D. Cel and Chiron company . Horton in 2010
University of Alberta, Canada , He is the virology director of the Canadian distinguished researchers program and Professor Li Ka Shing of the University of Alberta . Horton is also director of Li Ka Shing Institute of applied virology .

   charles M· Rice 1952 Born in Sacramento, California .1981 year , Rice received her doctorate from California Institute of technology , And in the 1981 to 1985
Received postdoctoral training during the year .1986 year , Rice set up her own research team at Washington University School of medicine in St. Louis , And 1995 Became a full-time professor in . since 2001
Since , Rice has been a professor at Rockefeller University in New York .2001 Year to 2018
During the year , Rice is the scientific and executive director of the center for hepatitis C research at Rockefeller University , It is still working at the centre .( compile : Yujia )