The renowned Lasker Awards were granted to researchers who had made achievements in understanding the immune system’s complexities, eye disease diagnostics, and protein structure prediction. Researchers in biological areas pay close attention to these honors since they frequently anticipate Nobel Prizes.
A group of three researchers led by James G. Fujimoto, a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the co-inventors of optical coherence tomography, received the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.
The device can identify diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy earlier than previous techniques, preventing blindness. OCT is now frequently utilized in ophthalmology offices, where the patient just rests their chin and forehead against an instrument for a quick scan. The technique, developed in 1991, provides astonishing amounts of information about the retina, a tissue layer in the back of the eye that is essential for vision. He determined that approximately 40 million O.C.T. exams were performed annually worldwide. According to Eric A. Swanson, a researcher at M.I.T. who developed the technique, the devices used for O.C.T. today have built on huge achievements.
O.C.T. exams are often far less expensive than CT scans or other technologies for closely inspecting the body. O.C.T. has been used to examine arteries, showing how it can be employed in other body parts.
The “protein folding problem” was finally resolved in 2020 by DeepMind, an artificial intelligence research group based in London. The Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award went to the team led by researcher John Jumper and firm CEO Demis Hassabis.
The cellular machinery of all living organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and the human body, is powered by proteins. Before folding into three-dimensional structures that specify what they can and cannot accomplish, they start off as strings of chemical components.
Identifying a protein’s structure is frequently crucial for battling sickness and creating novel treatments. For instance, a bacterium might produce a specific protein to resist an antibiotic. Scientists might overcome this barrier if they can figure out its form.
This effort requires significant lab experimentation using X-rays, microscopes, and other physical equipment over many years. Then Dr. Jumper and other DeepMind researchers created Alpha Fold, an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can accurately predict a protein’s form in a matter of minutes when given the string of amino acids that make up the protein.
A year later, DeepMind publicly distributed the tool to researchers worldwide, instantly accelerating attempts to comprehend diseases, create new medications, and investigate numerous mysteries of the human body. More than 200 million proteins, observed in a million species, have been predicted by the lab by 2022, covering nearly every protein known to science.
To learn more about the coronavirus, several scientists have exploited the technology. Others have utilized Alpha Fold to foretell how viruses will change or how proteins will be excreted by the body, which might influence the progression of illnesses and other disorders.
Dodging The Body’s Defenses
To speed up the drug development process, scientists have recently used this type of technology to create completely unique proteins that do not exist in nature. Dr. Piet Borst, a scientist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute noted for his discoveries about the complexity of some parasitic infections and the resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs, received the Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science.
He found that parasites, such as trypanosomes, which cause African sleeping sickness, alter their surface proteins to evade the immune system’s defenses.
The scientific method is extremely necessary in our increasingly complicated and science-driven culture to distinguish between what is true and what is quackery, alternative medicine, or pseudoscience.
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