Researchers Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice have won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus, the committe announced on Monday.Prior to their work, the committee said, the discovery of the Hepatitis A and B viruses had been critical steps forward, but the majority of blood-borne hepatitis cases was still unexplained.“The discovery of Hepatitis C virus revealed the cause of the remaining cases of chronic hepatitis and made possible blood tests and new medicines that have saved millions of lives,” the statement shared by the committee said.Alter and Rice were both born in the U.S. while Hougton was born in the U.K.An estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, according to the World Health Organization. A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis, scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage, or liver cancer.Each laureate made a significant contribution to Hepatitis C research, with much of their work dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.The studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis conducted by Alter demonstrated that an unknown virus was a common cause of chronic hepatitis.”To see so many people get cured is astounding,”

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