Hepatitis C is a viral disease that affects approximately 71 million people worldwide. Depending on the region, roughly 0.5 – 2.5% of the population is infected. It is a blood-borne disease, nowadays primarily transmitted through sharing needles amongst drug users. Four out of five of those infected do not show any symptoms and so are unaware they have an illness that causes scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and that may ultimately lead to liver cancer. About 400 thousand people die of hepatitis C each year.
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice, “for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus”. In a year that may be dubbed, “the year of the virus”, this Nobel Prize crowns over half a century of research. Learn more on our blog.