Discovering drugs from soil microorganisms
Satoshi Omura (12 July 1935 - )
By isolating soil microorganisms and studying the compounds they produce, Satoshi Omura (born 1935) discovered almost 500 organic compounds with unique properties that were produced by these microorganisms, including many new antibiotics. In 1978, he succeeded in culturing a strain of bacteria that produced an antiparasitic compound known as avermectin. In a chemically modified form called ivermectin, the compound is effective against infections caused by parasitic worms, such as river blindness and elephantiasis, that afflict millions of people living in developing tropical regions. For his research on avermectin, Omura was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015.