RACP Fellow named 2017 New Zealand Innovator of the Year
20 Mar 2017
RACP Fellow Professor Ed Gane was named 2017 New Zealand Innovator of the Year.
Professor Ed Gane’s dedicated and innovative work has contributed to the development of a cure for hepatitis C, a life threatening disease that currently affects over 50,000 New Zealanders as well as many millions of people worldwide.
Hepatitis C is a devastating liver disease that affects four times as many people globally (150–170 million) as HIV/AIDS (37 million).
Hepatitis C is a blood-to-blood infection spread by such things as transfusions, unsterilised needles and tattoos. The hepatitis C virus attacks the liver over several years causing cirrhosis and liver cancer and is now the leading cause of liver deaths and liver transplantation in New Zealand. There is no vaccine and up until recently there has been no safe or effective treatment.
Professor Gane believed a combination of new oral anti-virals held the key to successful treatment.
For a number of years, Professor Gane supervised meticulous drug trials on Kiwi volunteers with chronic hepatitis C. He trialled various combinations of different anti-virals until he finally got the results he was looking for.
Thanks to Professor Gane and his international colleagues’ innovative work and perseverance, almost everyone with hepatitis C can now be cured with a short course of tablets. The World Health Organisation recently announced that more than one million people have already been cured with these new drugs and that global eradication of hepatitis C should now be achievable within the next 30 years.
This outstanding advance in treatment of hepatitis C will have a future global impact at a similar scale that the Polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk has had since 1955.
*Source: New Zealander of the Year Awards