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The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Martin B Van Der Weyden, Ruth M Armstrong and Ann T Gregory
Med J Aust 2005; 183 (11): 612-614.

The Helicobacter story illustrates some of the human hallmarks of revolutionary research

Not so long ago, peptic ulcer disease played havoc with people’s lives. Its sufferers endured chronic and debilitating pain and ran the risk of a life-threatening gastrointestinal haemorrhage or ulcer perforation. Throughout most of the 20th century, the conventional wisdom was that peptic ulcer disease was caused by gastric juice corroding vulnerable mucosa; the dictum “no acid — no ulcer” ruled the day, and neutralisation of gastric acid was the mainstay of management (Box 1). Fixed in this belief, gastroenterologists and surgeons vigorously argued the relative merits of different medications and surgical procedures in reducing gastric secretion, while research addressed the influence of “associated” factors such as social status, smoking and stress on gastric secretion and mucosal resistance.

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  • Martin B Van Der Weyden1
  • Ruth M Armstrong2
  • Ann T Gregory3

  • The Medical Journal of Australia, Sydney, NSW.

Correspondence: 

  • 1. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet. The 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine [press release]. 3 October 2005. Available at: http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/2005/press.html (accessed Nov 2005).
  • 2. von Szent-Gyorgyi A, quoted in Ratcliffe S, editor. The Oxford dictionary of thematic quotations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000: 206.
  • 3. Marshall BJ. The discovery that Helicobacter pylori, a spiral bacterium, caused peptic ulcer disease. In: Marshall BJ, editor. Helicobacter pioneers. Melbourne: Blackwell Science Asia, 2002: 165-202.
  • 4. Marshall BJ. The 1995 Albert Lasker Medical Research Award. Helicobacter pylori. The etiological agent for peptic ulcer. JAMA 1995; 274: 1064-1066.
  • 5. Warren JR, Marshall B. Unidentified curved bacilli on gastric epithelium in active chronic gastritis. Lancet 1983; 1: 1273-1275.
  • 6. Marshall BJ, Warren JR. Unidentified curved bacilli in the stomach of patients with gastritis and peptic ulceration. Lancet 1984; 1: 1311-1315.
  • 7. Spirals and ulcers [editorial]. Lancet 1984; 1: 1336-1337.
  • 8. Marshall BJ, Armstrong JA, McGechie DB, Glancy RJ. Attempt to fulfil Koch’s postulates for pyloric Campylobacter. Med J Aust 1985; 142: 436-439.
  • 9. Marshall BJ, McGechie DB, Rogers PA, Glancy RJ. Pyloric Campylobacter infection and gastroduodenal disease. Med J Aust 1985; 142: 439-444.
  • 10. Gregory AT. Jewels in the crown. The Medical Journal of Australia’s 10 most cited articles. Med J Aust 2004; 181: 9-12. <MJA full text>

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