These THREE scientists won the Nobel Prize for fighting parasitic diseases

These THREE scientists won the Nobel Prize for fighting parasitic diseases

Yesterday in Stockholm, three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering drugs to treat parasitic diseases such as malaria, river blindness, and elephantiasis.

Tu Youyou (right) and her tutor Lou Zhicen in China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in the 1950s. Photo credit: Xinhua News/Creative Commons

Tu Youyou (right) and her tutor Lou Zhicen in China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in the 1950s. Photo credit: Xinhua News/Creative Commons

China’s Youyou Tu was awarded one half of the prize—and she is China’s first Nobel laureate in medicine! Her 1971 discovery of the drug artemisinin helped cut the number of worldwide malaria deaths in HALF. That’s unbelievable!

This sculpture—"Sightless among Miracles" by Skip Wallen—in Amsterdam represents a boy who helps an older man blinded by Onchocerciasis, or river blindness. Photo credit: Creative Commons

This sculpture—”Sightless among Miracles” by Skip Wallen—in Amsterdam represents a boy who helps an older man blinded by Onchocerciasis, or river blindness. Photo credit: Creative Commons

Irish-born William Campbell and Japan’s Satoshi Omura were awarded the other half of the prize for discovering ivermectin, a drug that can treat elephantiasis, river blindness, and other roundworm infections. These conditions, part of a group known as neglected tropical diseases, are common among the world’s poorest people: Elephantiasis causes disfiguring swelling of the legs and scrotum, while river blindness starts with intense itching and ends with blindness once the parasites invade the victim’s eyes. (Read more at NPR.org.)

Omura and Campbell’s compound can make it impossible for the parasite to reproduce and so introduces a potential to eradicate these terrible diseases.

Congratulations to these incredible scientists. We’re so inspired by their work fighting preventable disease in Africa and the rest of the world!

Learn more, then join us in the fight against preventable disease!

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