Nobel and other Prizes

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Nobel and other Prizes

[op-ed snap] Nobel for poverty warriors

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nobel in Economics

Mains level : New approach to Poverty

Context

So far, development economics has treated the poor either as lifeless objects that could be moved around or seen as unable to make the best of opportunities that governments offered them. 

Novel approach

    • The three development economists who have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics have overturned that status quo. 
    • They have redeveloped the field of development economics with the aid of new experimental methods that put researchers in direct contact with the poor. 
    • This was started by Angus Deaton, who won the Economics Nobel in 2015 for his work on the consumption choices of the poor as well as how to accurately measure poverty

Vanguards of change

    • From the view of poor – Development challenges are now viewed through an appropriate lens, the lives of the poor rather than large statistical models, with a special focus on how incentives, information, and constraints shape actual choices. 
    • RCTs – Their use of randomized control trials has lent credibility to poverty research and helped solve old riddles of causality. 
    • Evidence-based – Their expertise has led to the formulation of policies that go by evidence, not assumptions.

Result

    • Huge insights – The result has been a burst of insights and fresh answers to good questions. 
    • Few examples
      • Does microfinance actually boost entrepreneurship among the poor? 
      • Why do the poor spend so much on entertainment? 
      • How does subsidized healthcare impact the investment that have-nots make in their own health? 

Critics

    • Universality – Some argue that the findings may not be universally applicable. 
    • Policy maker’s challenge – Tracing the causal links of one phenomenon to another could baffle those who frame policy. It really doesn’t help knowing if today’s farm investments in technology depend on whether the area’s land tenure system was based on zamindari or ryotwari a hundred years ago.
    • Field trials – Field trials tend to miss the big structural changes that influence the political economy of a country.

The  big lesson – Developing Economies

    • They published a 2005 paper Growth Theory through the Lens of Development Economics
    • They argue that people and firms in developing economies are unable to adopt modern tools and make the most of all that’s available.
    • They are held back by things such as government failure, lack of access to credit, behavioral snags and factors beyond their control. 
    • Aim of development policy – It should be to identify these constraints and figure out how to ease them. 

Conclusion

Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer have shifted the spotlight from grand plans to actual poverty as a lived reality in all its microscopic detail.

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

[op-ed snap] Prize for peace

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Nobel Peace Prize

Context

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’ awarded this year’s Peace Prize to Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

Reasons for the prize

  • It is a recognition of his efforts for peace in East Africa.
  • Mr. Abiy, became Prime Minister in April 2018 after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn resigned amid a political crisis and social unrest.
  • He has taken steps to politically stabilise the country and establish peace on its borders
  • The committee recognised his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”. 

Conflict with Eritrea

  • Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991 and has fought a disastrous border war during 1998-2000 with its big neighbour. 
  • It split thousands of families and killed about 80,000 people. 
  • In Eritrea, the dictatorship used the prolonged border conflict as a convenient excuse for conscription and repression of its critics leading to a mass refugee outflow. 
  • Mr. Abiy took steps to resume the stalled peace process. He led Ethiopia’s first state visit to Eritrea and met its President, Isaias Afwerki. Within days both countries declared the end of the border war.

Reforms at home

  • He also initiated reforms at home, such as lifting the ban on opposition political parties, releasing political prisoners and jailed journalists and removing media curbs. 
  • Half of his Cabinet members are women and his government has welcomed the dissidents who were living in exile to return. 
  • Mr. Abiy, himself hailing from the Oromo ethnic group, persuaded the Oromo Liberation Front to join a wide-ranging peace process with the government. 

Challenges ahead

  • His biggest challenge is to calm ethnic tensions in his conflict-ridden country. 
  • Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic federation ruled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front with a tight grip. 
  • Mr. Abiy has loosened this grip and called for a pan-Ethiopian identity and a freer economy and polity
  • His reform agenda was challenged by ethno-nationalists both within and outside his party. 
  • His government remained a spectator when ethnic violence was unleashed in several parts of the country over the past year, and sub-nationalisms emerged stronger. 
  • The Oromia and Amhara regions remain tense. Ethnic Gedeos and Gujis are in conflict in the south. Earlier this year, at least 5,22,000 Ethiopians were displaced by ethnic conflicts. 
  • The country is set to go to elections next year. Many fear that violence could escalate. 

Conclusion

Being a Nobel peace prize winner, he should come up with a national action plan to end violence, ease ethnic tensions and resettle the thousands displaced by the violence. 

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

[op-ed snap] How things work

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nobel Prize winners and discoveries

Mains level : Frontiers of science

Context

The first Nobel prizes of this year are announced.

The prize

  • The prize honors fundamental discoveries of the processes which run the universe and living things in it. 
  • The prizes also look ahead to a better and more interesting future

Physiology

  • William G Kaelin Jr, Sir Peter J Ratcliffe, and Gregg L Semenza have won the prize for physiology or medicine for discovering the pathways by which cells adapt to oxygen availability.
  • It is of considerable medical use towards understanding cellular respiration.
  • It is the most significant step since 1937 when Hans Adolf Krebs and William Arthur Johnson discovered the cycle mediated by ATP, which powers life.

Physics

  • Half of the prize in physics went to James Peebles, whose theoretical framework describing the universe from the Big Bang to the present underpins all of physical cosmology. 
  • He concluded that we can sense only 5% of the universe. The rest is dark matter and dark energy, whose presence can only be inferred by their influence on phenomena. 
  • The other half of the physics Nobel prize is shared by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, for the discovery in 1995 of the first exoplanet, orbiting the star 51 Pegasi
  • Their technique, using Doppler spectroscopy, supplemented the traditional transit method and has led to the discovery of 4,000 planets circling distant suns.

Conclusion

Is there life on exoplanets? Peebles appears to be convinced that even if there is, we may not recognise it, because it may not use Hans Krebs’ cycle at all.

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

PM conferred with Seoul Peace Prize

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Seoul Peace Prize

Mains level: Recognition to Indian economic and foreign policy reforms across the world


News

Awarding the Modi Doctrine

  1. The award recognizes PM Modi’s contribution to the growth of Indian and global economies, crediting ‘Modinomics’ for reducing social and economic disparity between the rich and the poor.
  2. The committee lauded PM’s initiatives to make the government cleaner through anti-corruption measures and demonetization.
  3. The committee also credited him for his contribution towards regional and global peace through a proactive Foreign Policy with countries around the world under the ‘Modi doctrine’ and the act east policy.

About the Seoul Peace Prize

  1. The prize has been awarded to those who have made their mark through contributions to the harmony of mankind, reconciliation between nations and to world peace.
  2. Established in 1990, the Seoul Peace Prize was an effort to crystallise the Korean people’s yearning for peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of the world.
  3. It was initially established to commemorate the success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, Republic of Korea – an event in which 160 nations from across the world took part, creating harmony and friendship and a worldwide atmosphere of peace and reconciliation.
  4. Previous winners of the award include former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned international relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

Back2basics

Modinomics

The term Modinomics is often used to refer landmark economic reforms carried out under PM Modi. Few of them are mentioned below:

  • Introduction and implementation of GST Framework
  • Setting up of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
  • Demonetization
  • New hydrocarbon exploration licensing policy
  • Trinity of JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile) etc.

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

[op-ed snap] Augmenting life — on Nobel Prize 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | developments & their applications & effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nobel prizes, Optical tweezers, Optical holography, Attosecond lasers

Mains level: Low strength of women in scientific research and the need for a better atmosphere to bring more women in research domain


Context

Links of Nobel prize to evolution

  1. The Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year is a tribute to the power of evolution
  2. The laureates harnessed evolution and used it in the laboratory with amazing results
  3. Frances H. Arnold, an American who was given one-half of the prize, used ‘directed evolution’ to synthesise variants of naturally occurring enzymes that could be used to manufacture biofuels and pharmaceuticals
  4. The other half went to George P. Smith, also of the U.S., and Sir Gregory P. Winter, from the U.K., who evolved antibodies to combat autoimmune diseases and even metastatic cancer through a process called phage display
  5. The prizes reaffirm the importance of the concept of evolution in our understanding of life as among the most profound of forces we are exposed to

Other prizes

  1. The Physiology and Medicine prize has gone to the American James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo, from Japan, for showing how different strategies can inhibit the metaphorical ‘brakes’ acting on the immune system and thereby unleash the system’s power on cancer cells to curb their proliferation
  2. These immunologists have enhanced the power of the body’s immune system to go beyond its natural capacity
  3. Arthur Ashkin, from the U.S., has been awarded one-half of the Physics prize, for enabling us to individually hold, study and manipulate tiny bacteria and viruses using ‘optical tweezers’
  4. Optical tweezers are used to study and manipulate subcellular structures such as DNA and little molecular motors
  5. Optical holography, wherein thousands of such optical tweezers can operate together on, say, blood, to separate damaged blood cells from healthy ones could be a treatment process for malaria
  6. Gérard Mourou, from France, and Donna Strickland, from Canada, who share the other half of the Physics prize, have been honoured for their methods to generate ultra-short pulses of laser light
  7. Among its uses are in Lasik surgery in ophthalmology, and in making surgical stents
  8. Attosecond lasers have even made it possible to observe individual electrons

Use of fundamental forces

  1. The prize-winners have drawn upon the fundamental forces in science and reached out beyond human physical limitations

Need to bring more women in scientific research

  1. Two of the six laureates – Donna Strickland and Frances Arnold – are women
  2. They are only the third and fifth women Nobel laureates in Physics and Chemistry, respectively, since the inception of the Nobel prizes
  3. This statistic gives a reason for the community of scientists to introspect over what makes an enabling environment for women to practise science in

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

[pib] UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) Award

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNIATF

Mains level: India’s efforts for prevention and control of NCDs


News

Context

  • Shri Manoj Jhalani, Additional Secretary & Mission Director (NHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been conferred with the prestigious UNIATF Award for his outstanding contribution towards prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and related SDGs.

India’s efforts for prevention and control of NCDs

  1. It is in recognition of Government of India’s efforts made in the field of prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
  2. National Programme to control NCDs has been scaled up by more than eight times in the past four years and covers all the 36 States/Union Territories now.
  3. The govt. has also initiated population level prevention, control, screening and management initiative in almost 200 districts under NHM which will cover people above 30 years of age.
  4. When fully rolled out, the population-based screening will reach over 500 million adults with health promotion, risk reduction, screening, early detection and management of common NCDs.
  5. Free diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, referral and back referral have been integrated into the program with an IT platform developed through a multi-stakeholder partnership.
  6. The intervention also forms the core of Ayushman Bharat, comprehensive primary health care program.

Addressing multi-sectoral nature of Health issues

  1. The risk factors of NCDs are multi-sectoral and many of the interventions to control these lies outside the health sector.
  2. A National Multi-sectoral Action Plan has been developed which outlines the interventions for different sectors of the Government and other stakeholders.

Back2Basics

United Nations Interagency Task Force (UNIATF)

  1. The UNIATF on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases was established by the UN Secretary-General in June 2013 and placed under the leadership of WHO.
  2. It aims to support governments, in particular in low- and middle-income countries, to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease.
  3. Following the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, UNIATF’s scope of work was expanded in 2016 to include “NCD related SDGs” – i.e. mental health, violence and injuries, nutrition, and environmental issues that impact on NCDs.
  4. The World Health Organization acts as a Secretariat and lead for the Task Force.
  5. The UNIATF coordinates the activities of relevant UN organizations and other inter-governmental organizations to support Governments to meet high-level commitments to respond to NCD epidemics worldwide.
  6. The Task Force reports once a year to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

Balkrishna Doshi wins architecture’s top Pritzker Prize, first Indian to do so

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pritzker prize, Balkrishna Doshi, Le Corbusier

Mains level: Achievements of Indians in various domains


Maiden Pritzker prize for India

  1. Nonagenarian architect and reputed urban planner Balkrishna Doshi has been named this year’s winner of architecture’s highest honor — the Pritzker Prize
  2. He has become the first Indian to do so

Doshi’s work domain

  1. He is influenced by masters of 20th-century architecture, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, and Louis Khan
  2. His ethical and personal approach to architecture has touched lives of every socio-economic class across a broad spectrum of genres since the 1950s
  3. His designs include the IIM-Bangalore; Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad; cultural spaces in Ahmedabad such as Tagore Memorial Hall, the Institute of Indology, and Premabhai Hall

Back2Basics

Pritzker prize

  1. The Pritzker Architecture Prize is awarded annually “to honor a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment
  2. Founded in 1979 by Jay A. Pritzker and his wife Cindy, the award is funded by the Pritzker family and sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation
  3. It is considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes and is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of architecture
  4. The prize is said to be awarded “irrespective of nationality, race, creed, or ideology”
  5. Any licensed architect can also make a personal application for the prize before November 1 every year

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

The Nobel Literature Prize, 2016


Who? US music legend Bob Dylan, whose poetic lyrics have influenced generations of fans
For what? Having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition
He’s the first songwriter to win the award

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2016


  1. Who? British-born Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom of Finland
  2. For what? Their contributions to contract theory, shedding light on how contracts help people deal with conflicting interests
  3. Their theories are valuable to the understanding of real—life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design
  4. For example, contract theory can be used to analyze performance-based pay for CEOs or deductibles and co-pays for insurance
  5. The economics prize is not an original Nobel Prize; it was added to the others in 1968 by Sweden’s central bank

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2016

  1. Who? Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
  2. For what? His efforts to end his country’s 50-year civil war
  3. Mr Santos negotiated a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrilla group but the peace deal was rejected by a narrow majority of Colombians when it was put to referendum
  4. Mr. Santos dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize to the victims of his country’s civil war
  5. Last year’s Peace Prize went to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

Nobel prize in Physics, 2016


  1. Who? David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz
  2. For what? Studies of unusual states of matter such as in superconductors
  3. Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter
  4. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

Nobel prize in Chemistry, 2016


  1. Who? Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa
  2. For What? Work on molecular machines that may lead to developments like new materials, sensors and energy storage systems
  3. The French, Scottish and Dutch scientists had developed molecules with controllable movements that can perform tasks when energy is added
  4. The molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to electric trains, washing machines, fans and food processors

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

[op-ed snap] It’s time to update the Nobel prizes

  1. Theme:A case for expanding the number of fields eligible for the Nobel Prize.
  2. Background: Nobel prizes were the brainchild of Alfred B. Nobel (a Swedish industrialist best known for inventing dynamite) to annually reward persons for contributions in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.
  3. Arguments for including more fields: Discoveries in newer fields like ecology, geology and climate science are increasingly critical for addressing today’s most pressing problems. A similar evolution was recognized with the 1968 establishment of a Nobel-calibre prize in economics.
  4. The Nobels’ narrow focus creates a two-tiered scientific universe: wherein only select fields have access to a uniquely powerful publicity mechanism, prestige, power and wealth that the Nobels bestow.
  5. Much of today’s most exciting and important science resides at the borders of traditional disciplines or in ones that don’t have a dedicated prize.
  6. Arguments against: The Nobel disciplines are still the “purest” sciences, and as such deserve extra recognition.
  7. Previous attempts to include more fields: In 2009, 10 prominent scientists and engineers, including a Nobel laureate, wrote an open letter asking the foundation to recognize more areas of science. The Nobel Foundation responded, in essence, by saying the committees that made the awards “have been reasonably successful up till now in tracing major developments of modern civilization”.

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Nobel and other Prizes

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine


  1. Awarded to: Yoshinori Ohsumi from Japan
  2. For: Discovered and elucidated mechanisms underlying ‘autophagy’
  3. Autophagy: A fundamental process for degrading and recycling cellular components
  4. Earlier: The 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for discoveries concerning novel therapies against river blindness, lymphatic filariasis and malaria to William C. Campbell, Satoshi Omura and Youyou Tu

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

Cells’ Toolbox for DNA repair honoured with Nobel Prize in Chemistry


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015 is awarded to Tomas Lindahl (UK), Paul Modrich (USA) and Aziz Sancar (USA) for having mapped, at a molecular level, how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information.

Their work has provided fundamental knowledge of how a living cell functions and is, for instance, used for the development of new cancer treatments.

What’s the DNA repair toolbox ?

Each day our DNA is damaged by UV radiation, free radicals and other carcinogenic substances, but even without such external attacks, a DNA molecule is inherently unstable.

Thousands of spontaneous changes to a cell’s genome occur on a daily basis. Furthermore, defects can also arise when DNA is copied during cell division, a process that occurs several million times every day in the human body.

The reason our genetic material does not disintegrate into complete chemical chaos is that a host of molecular systems continuously monitor and repair DNA.

The Nobel laureate scientists, who have mapped how several of repair systems function at a detailed molecular level.



 

Tomas Lindahl – Puts together the pieces of base excision repair

In the early 1970s, scientists believed that DNA was an extremely stable molecule, but Tomas Lindahl demonstrated that DNA decays at a rate that ought to have made the development of life on Earth impossible. This insight led him to discover a molecular machinery, base excision repair, which constantly counteracts the collapse of our DNA.

This was the start of 35 years of successful work, during which Tomas Lindahl has found and examined many of the proteins in the cell’s toolbox for DNA repair.

Bit by bit, Lindahl pieced together a molecular image of how base excision repair functions, a process in which glycosylases, enzymes similar to the one he had found in 1974, are the first step in the DNA repair process.

Base excision repair also occurs in human beings and, in 1996, Tomas Lindahl managed to recreate the human repair process in vitro.

The decisive factor for Tomas Lindahl was the realisation that DNA inevitably undergoes change, even when the molecule is located in the cell’s protective environment. However, it had long been known that DNA can be damaged by environmental assaults such as UV radiation.

The mechanism used by the majority of cells to repair UV damage, nucleotide excision repair, was mapped by Aziz Sancar, born in Savur, Turkey, and professionally active in the USA.

Base Excision repair

Aziz Sancar’s Nucleotide excision repair

Aziz Sancar has mapped nucleotide excision repair, the mechanism that cells use to repair UV damage to DNA. People born with defects in this repair system will develop skin cancer if they are exposed to sunlight. The cell also utilises nucleotide excision repair to correct defects caused by mutagenic substances, among other things.

Aziz Sancar’s ability to generate knowledge about the molecular details of the process changed the entire research field. He published his findings in 1983.

He mapped the next stages of nucleotide excision repair. In parallel with other researchers, including Tomas Lindahl, Sancar investigated nucleotide excision repair in humans.

The molecular machinery that excises UV damage from human DNA is more complex than its bacterial counterpart but, in chemical terms, nucleotide excision repair functions similarly in all organisms.

nucleotide_excision_repair

 

Paul Modrich – illustrating DNA mismatch repair

Once his father, a biology teacher, said: “You should learn about this DNA stuff.” This was in 1963, the year after James Watson and Francis Crick had been awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA.

A few years later, that “DNA stuff” really became central to Paul Modrich’s life.

Paul Modrich has demonstrated how the cell corrects errors that occur when DNA is replicated during cell division. This mechanism, mismatch repair, reduces the error frequency during DNA replication by about a thousandfold. Congenital defects in mismatch repair are known, for example, to cause a hereditary variant of colon cancer.

In conclusion, the basic research carried out by the 2015 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry has not only deepened our knowledge of how we function, but could also lead to the development of lifesaving treatments.

In the words of Paul Modrich: “That is why curiosity-based research is so important. You never know where it is going to lead… A little luck helps, too.”


 


Irish-born William Campbell and Japan’s Satoshi Omura won half of the prize for discovering avermectin, a derivative of which has been used to treat hundreds of millions of people with river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis.

China’s Tu Youyou was awarded the other half of the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has slashed malaria deaths and has become the mainstay of fighting the mosquito-borne disease. She is China’s first Nobel laureate in medicine.

Lets’s talk about Satoshi Omura’s invention

Satoshi Ōmura

So, how did the journey start for Satoshi Omura?

Satoshi Omura, a Japanese microbiologist and expert in isolating natural products, focused on a group of bacteria, Streptomyces, which lives in the soil and was known to produce a plethora of agents with antibacterial activities (including Streptomycin discovered by Selman Waksman, Nobel Prize 1952).

Equipped with extraordinary skills in developing unique methods for large-scale culturing and characterization of these bacteria, Omura isolated new strains of Streptomyces from soil samples and successfully cultured them in the laboratory.

From many thousand different cultures, he selected about 50 of the most promising, one of these cultures later turned out to be Streptomyces avermitilis, the source of Avermectin, a medicine that has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis, which can cause the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis.

 

Bacteria.


Puzzle about River Blindness?

Also known as onchocerciasis or Robles’ Disease, is caused by transmission of the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus by black flies of the genus Simulium. Vector lives near rivers, thus the name.Inside the host, the worms create larvae that travel to the skin, and infect other flies that bite the victim.

Symptoms include severe itching, eruptions under the skin, and blindness. About 17-25 million are infected; some 0.8 million have some degree of vision loss. Most infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

Then, what about Lymphatic Filariasis or Commonly known as elephantiasis ?

It is tropical disease caused by transmission of parasites classified as nematodes (roundworms) of the family Filariodideato, to humans by mosquitoes.

Adult worms lodge in lymphatic system and disrupt immune system. Causes abnormal enlargement of body parts, pain, severe disability and social stigma.

Over 120 million people are infected, about 40 million disfigured or incapacitated. About 1.23 billion in 58 countries are threatened, 80% of whom live in 10 countries, including India, Bangladesh and Nepal.


Our next Pioneer William C. Campbell

William C. Campbell

An expert in parasite biology working in the USA, acquired Omura’s Streptomyces cultures and explored their efficacy.

Campbell showed that a component from one of the cultures was remarkably efficient against parasites in domestic and farm animals.

The bioactive agent was purified and named Avermectin, which was subsequently chemically modified to a more effective compound called Ivermectin. 

Ivermectin was later tested in humans with parasitic infections and effectively killed parasite larvae (microfilaria) .

Collectively, Omura and Campbell’s contributions led to the discovery of a new class of drugs with extraordinary efficacy against parasitic diseases.

 

Scheme.


 

What a breakthrough, China’s first Nobel laureate in medicine, Let’s talk about it?

 

Youyou Tu

Ms. Youyou Tu, won Nobel in Medicine for a therapy against malaria.

Malaria was traditionally treated by chloroquine or quinine, but with declining success. By the late 1960s, efforts to eradicate Malaria had failed and the disease was on the rise.

At that time, Youyou Tu in China turned to traditional herbal medicine to tackle the challenge of developing novel Malaria therapies.

Tu revisited the ancient literature and discovered clues that guided her in her quest to successfully extract the active component from Artemisia annua. 

Tu was the first to show that this component, later called Artemisinin, was highly effective against the Malaria parasite, both in infected animals and in humans.

Artemisinin represents a new class of antimalarial agents that rapidly kill the Malaria parasites at an early stage of their development, which explains its unprecedented potency in the treatment of severe Malaria.

 

Herbal medicine


 

How do you think these inventions will change the world?

The discoveries of Avermectin and Artemisinin have fundamentally changed the treatment of parasitic diseases.

Ivermectin is highly effective against a range of parasites, has limited side effects and is freely available across the globe.

The importance of Ivermectin for improving the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals with River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, primarily in the poorest regions of the world, is immeasurable.

Treatment is so successful that these diseases are on the verge of eradication, which would be a major feat in the medical history of humankind. Malaria infects close to 200 million individuals yearly.

Artemisinin is used in all Malaria-ridden parts of the world. When used in combination therapy, it is estimated to reduce mortality from Malaria by more than 20% overall and by more than 30% in children. For Africa alone, this means that more than 100 000 lives are saved each year.

The discoveries of Avermectin and Artemisinin have revolutionized therapy for patients suffering from devastating parasitic diseases.

Campbell, Ōmura and Tu have transformed the treatment of parasitic diseases. The global impact of their discoveries and the resulting benefit to mankind are immeasurable.

Published with inputs from Arun

By Root

Caretaker @civilsdaily

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