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Scientists from Japan, China and Ireland share 2015 Nobel medicine prize

William C. Campbell of Ireland, Satoshi Omura of Japan and Youyou Tu of China have jointly won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work against parasitic diseases.

Campbell and Satoshi won one half of the price for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites, while Tu shared the other half for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria. Urban Lendahl, Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine, announced the committee's decision at a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday morning.

"Diseases caused by parasites have plagued humankind for millennia and constitute a major global health problem. In particular, parasitic diseases affect the world’s poorest populations and represent a huge barrier to improving human health and wellbeing," the committee said in its announcement. "This year’s Nobel Laureates have developed therapies that have revolutionized the treatment of some of the most devastating parasitic diseases."

Campbell and Satoshi discovered a drug, Avermectin, that led to treatments that have radically lowered the incidence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing efficacy against an expanding number of other parasitic diseases. Tu discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from Malaria.

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

Monday's announcement was the first of a week-long series of Nobel prize announcements, including the much-awaited Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

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