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Nobel Prize for river blindness drug discoverers.

Two scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery of a drug being used to eradicate river blindness. William C. Campbell from Ireland and Japan's Satoshi Omura were each awarded a quarter share in the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work which led to the effective anti-parasitic drug, ivermectin, which is helping to eradicate river blindness.

River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is caused by parasitic roundworms. Infected flies, which breed near fast-flowing water where many people bath and wash, spread the parasite when they bite humans. Once inside their human hosts, the worms produce larvae which move to the skin's surface, causing itching and lesions. When this occurs on the cornea, it can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated.

The path to discovery began when Professor Omura, a microbiologist, started to isolate soil bacteria samples from the local area in the search for new medical compounds in the 1970s.

Professor Campbell, a parasitologist based at Drew University in New Jersey, later discovered that the compound was effective in killing parasitic round worms in animals. His work would eventually lead to the production of ivermectin, a derivative drug made by pharmaceutical company Merck.

Ivermectin forms the core strategy in eliminating the neglected tropical disease, with clinical trials in patients showing a single dose was sufficient to kill all of the parasites. Professors Campbell and Omura share the Nobel Prize with Professor Tu Youyou of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, who was awarded a half share of the accolade for her discovery of the antimalarial drug, artemisinin.

OT?s Ryan O?Hare reviews the latest clinical news and research papers

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Title Annotation:CLINICAL VIEW; William C. Campbell; Satoshi Omura
Author:O'Hare, Ryan
Publication:Optometry Today
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Nov 1, 2015
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