The most important scientific discoveries of the year 2021

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The prestigious American scientific journal “Science” mentioned ten groundbreaking discoveries this year, such as the 3D version of proteins. However, there are also three worrying negative developments that could affect the survival of mankind.

The Nobel Prize is not the only one usually awarded to researchers, the majority of whom are elderly, for their pioneering discoveries they made decades ago.The most important discoverers and their findings.

This list mostly consists of discoveries and researchers that are of great importance at the moment, or of those that have emerged negatively and worryingly.

Breakthrough of the year 2021

In 2021, the journal Science honored revolutionary technology as the “Breakthrough of the Year” that will also help us in the fight against the current Corona epidemic, as AI-based technology quickly and clearly shows us what proteins look like and how they work.

Thanks to the new technology, nanoproteins can be analyzed and displayed in three dimensions with greater accuracy than ever before.

According to the journal Science, the process is literally revolutionary, similar to the CRISPR / Cas9 molecular gene scissors, which has also been re-crowned and has recently become a standard tool in molecular biology, as it can be used to easily reverse genetic modifications. perform and accurately.

Proteins are made from long chains and form complex balls that perform specific tasks. For example, some proteins, such as enzymes, can break down sugar molecules. The amino acids determine how these chains are built. The amino acid sequence, in turn, is predetermined in approximately 20,000 genes in the human species.

Faster and cheaper protein structure analysis

Until now, scientists could only analyze the structures of about a third of human proteins, because until recently, determining the structure of proteins using X-ray crystallography and cryomicroscopy made it very tedious and expensive.

But now this analysis is much faster and cheaper thanks to the new AI tools AlphaFold and RoseTTAFold Researchers only need to enter the amino acid sequence in the genome of a protein into a computer, and the new technology can start creating its 3D model .

AlphaFold’s team, John Jumper, has already been able to determine the equivalent structures of almost all human proteins, because the AI-powered tool looks at all the structures of proteins already stored in databases, and thus practices itself practically in the process.

Basic knowledge for drug development

Researchers can only understand the function of a protein in the body by knowing the structure and exact function of this protein. But the new knowledge also helps to develop drugs that are specifically tailored for specific proteins.

During the current Corona pandemic period, researchers used the new artificial intelligence technology to determine the effects of mutations in the form of the peak protein, as the Corona virus clings to the cells of the body.

For example, scientists are now calculating whether the mutant or micron of the Corona virus is no longer also threatened by human antibodies, and whether immune protection has declined for this reason.

Nine more practical achievements

In addition to the groundbreaking artificial intelligence technology, the journal “Science” also highlights new scientific developments that have left clear imprints on various sciences in 2021.

Of particular interest is a method that specifically favors archeology and prehistoric research, as the new method can be used to extract human DNA from topsoil, for example from Neanderthals. Until recently, it always required DNA from excavated bone fragments.

The list also included groundbreaking studies on psychological irritants called Psychedelics, which open up entirely new avenues for the treatment of mental disorders. However, evaluations differ greatly on whether these drugs should actually be used to treat anxiety and depression.

A study of the development of human embryos without fertilization could revolutionize the work of researchers.

Another very impressive discovery is the massive merger response made at the US National Ignition Facility (NIF), which may one day help solve energy problems on our planet.

Physicists were stunned by the new discovery in particle physics, which last April announced a difference of 2.5 parts per billion, which could indicate new particles lurking above the high-energy horizon.

A research team from the Fermi National Research Laboratory near Chicago, USA, has confirmed that the results of their recent experiments on a subatomic particle, called “the muon”, indicate that we are only one step away from the first explicit violation of the most accurate theory in the entire history of physics.

In another discovery, the data taken from the NASA “Insight” probe made it possible to draw very important conclusions about the composition of the inside of the red planet Mars.

A major scientific step, of course, is the development of synthetic antibodies and drugs for the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus.

Three negative developments

In addition to its top “Breakthroughs of the Year” list, Science also named “BreakDOWNS”, the negative developments of the year.

According to the magazine, this list clearly contains the waning hope of continuing to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement’s ambitious goal of 1.5 ° C of our blue planet.

The magazine also negatively ranked the confusing controversy over the new drug to treat Alzheimer’s containing the active substance Aducanumab, a monoclonal antibody.

It should still be mentioned that the prestigious scientific journal has expressed great concern that the current Corona pandemic is also increasingly threatening researchers.

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