2005 Nobel Prize Winners – The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Barry Marshall and Robin Warren discovered that inflammation in the stomach and ulceration of the stomach or duodenum is the result of an infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. In 1982, when they discovered this bacterium, stress and lifestyle were considered the major causes of peptic ulcer disease. Their studies showed that patients could be cured from their peptic ulcer disease only when the bacteria is eradicated from the stomach. In 1983 and 1984, they reported in The Lancet their finding of curved bacilli in the gastric biopsy samples of patients with gastritis. An incredulous medical world remained unconvinced of the association, even when Marshall swallowed a solution of the bacteria, thus infecting himself. Only in the early 1990s was the evidence deemed too great to be ignored, and work began on ways to eradicate Helicobacter pylori to treat peptic ulcer. As a result of their pioneering discovery, peptic ulcer disease is no longer a chronic, frequently disabling condition, but one that can be cured by a short regimen of antibiotics and acid secretion inhibitors transforming the treatment of millions.