Peptic ulcers and the Nobel prize

For many years, everybody used to think that peptic ulcers, which cause acidity– related pain and bleeding in the stomach and duodenum, were because of lifestyle reasons. Everybody thought that a stressful life led to a lot of acid secretion in the stomach, and eventually caused peptic ulcers.
Then two Australians made a discovery that a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, was responsible for peptic ulcers. Robin Warren (born 1937), a pathologist from Perth, Australia, saw these small curved bacteria in the lower part of the stomach in many patients. He noticed that signs of
inflammation were always present around these bacteria. Barry Marshall (born 1951), a young clinical fellow, became interested in Warren’s findings and succeeded in cultivating the bacteria from these sources. In treatment studies, Marshall and Warren showed that patients could be cured of peptic ulcer only when the bacteria were killed off from the stomach. Thanks to this pioneering discovery by Marshall and Warren, peptic ulcer disease is no longer a chronic, frequently disabling condition, but disease that can be cured by a short period of treatment with antibiotics. For this achievement, Marshall and Warren (seen in the picture) received the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 2005.

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