Nobel Prize For Combating Parasitic Diseases

October 9th, 2015 by INMED



In recent years the annual Nobel Prize in Medicine has focused on awards for high-tech applications; like development of CT imaging and mapping of the human genome. This year’s Nobel Prize shines light in a distinctly different arena: advances against some leading diseases of extreme poverty.


In 1985 I first traveled to Niger and Burkina Faso – nations in West Africa – where I cared for older men and women plagued by River Blindness. This tiny worm infestation is transmitted by the bite of black flies that inhabit flowing steams. The worms multiply by the trillions within human bodies, causing kidney failure, unrelenting itching, and vision loss. But today West Africa is experiencing relief from River Blindness, thanks to the pioneering discovery of the drug avermectin by William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura.


In 1989 I first traveled to Angola, where everyday I treated children who often died from malaria. Standard chloroquine drug therapy was often ineffective, but the alternative, quinine, brought with it a host of adverse effects. Today malaria throughout the world is treated with a artemisinin, a much safer and more effective agent uncovered by Youyou Tu.


Do you have a research interest? Progress against today’s other diseases of extreme poverty will require intelligent, innovative, dedicated scientists. Our world is in desperate need a more effective vaccine again tuberculosis, a better treatment for Chaga’s disease (trypansomiasis), and point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests. Through such advances you may become recognized as a Noble recipient. Moreover, you will be a blessing to innumerable people who will never enjoy the privilege of thanking you.