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Three share Nobel prize for anti-parasite drug.

THREE scientists have won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering drugs to fight malaria and other tropical diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people every year.

The Nobel judges in Stockholm awarded the prestigious prize to William Campbell, born in Ireland and a US citizen since 1962, Satoshi Omura, of Japan, and Tu Youyou - the first ever Chinese medicine laureate.

Campbell and Omura were cited for discovering avermectin, derivatives of which have helped lower the incidence of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, two diseases caused by parasitic worms that affect millions in Africa and Asia.

Tu discovered artemisinin, a drug that has helped significantly reduce the mortality rates of malaria patients.

"The two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually," the committee said. "The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immensurable."

River blindness is an eye and skin disease that leads to blindness. About 90% of the disease occurs in Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

Lymphatic filariasis can lead to swelling of the limbs and genitals, called elephantiasis, and it is primarily a threat in Africa and Asia. The WHO says 120 million people are infected, with about 40 million dis-figured and incapacitated.

Campbell, 85, is a research fellow emeritus at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Omura, 80, is a professor emeritus at Kitasato University in Japan. Tu, 84, is chief professor at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 6, 2015
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