A potential Alzheimer’s drug, new mRNA vaccines, the first CRISPR therapy, a mission to Jupiter’s icy moons, and others to our own satellite. The year 2023 will come loaded with new scientific advances. These are some of them, collected by the magazine ‘Nature’.
New mRNA vaccines
The German company BioNTech will start the first human trials of mRNA vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and genital herpes in the coming weeks. In addition, it is also collaborating with the American Pfizer in testing a vaccine based on mRNA to reduce the rate of herpes zoster. Another US drugmaker, Moderna, also has mRNA candidates for the viruses that cause genital herpes. Additionally, in November, BioNTech and Pfizer began their Phase I trial of an mRNA vaccine against Covid-19 and flu.
More Findings from James Webb
If 2022 was the year of James Webb, 2023 will be too. The new space telescope, the result of a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency, has completed one year in space, during which time it has shown its great capabilities to see better and further into space. universe, like a time machine. has shown us the oldest known galaxies and has glimpsed atmosphere of extrasolar planets. This year the scientific findings from him are expected to continue.
Euclid, the telescope of what is not seen
In 2023 the Euclid space telescope of the European Space Agency (ESA) will take off. For six years, it will orbit the Sun and take pictures to create a 3D map of more than a billion galaxies. Its goal is to improve the understanding of dark matter and energy, the most abundant and mysterious components of the universe, by accurately measuring the acceleration of the cosmos.
Vera Rubin, the southern observatory
The Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile is one of the great promises of astronomy for 2023. Many scientists hope to use it from July to observe objects located in the southern sky like never before. The telescope, which has a special three-mirror design, will be able to scan the entire southern sky in just three nights.
Mission to the moons of Jupiter
The European Space Agency (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission will lift off in April to study the giant gas planet and its moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto. It will arrive in the system in 2030. Scientists think these icy moons have hidden oceans of water beneath their surfaces. Juice will try to find out more about these oceans and will try to find underground water reserves. Mapping their surfaces, it will study their core-to-outer composition and their incredibly thin atmospheres.
The Pathogen Watch List
The World Health Organization (WHO) will publish in 2023 a revised list of priority pathogens that could cause outbreaks or pandemics. Some 300 scientists from all over the world participate in the project, who study more than 25 viral and bacterial families. The goal is to identify those that may be most dangerous in the future, to set research priorities and guide the development of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests.
More visits to the Moon
On December 11, as NASA’s unmanned Orion capsule splashed down in the Pacific after its trip around the Moon, three more missions were launched to our satellite: the United Arab Emirates’ Rashid rover, NASA’s Lunar Lantern and the Japanese mission HAKUTO-R 1, which will attempt a soft lunar landing in April. In addition, India’s third Moon exploration mission, Chandrayaan-3, will land near the South Pole in mid-2023. As if that were not enough, the private company SpaceX will launch its first tourist trip to the Moon, with 11 people who they will embark on a 6-day private space flight aboard the Starship rocket.
First CRISPR therapy
The first approval of a CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing therapy to treat β-thalassemia and sickle cell disease, two genetic blood disorders, could be announced next year. The autotemcel exagamglogene (exa-cel) treatment, developed in the US, works by harvesting a person’s own stem cells and using gene scissors to edit the faulty gene, before reintroducing the cells into the patient.
Beyond the standard model
The Muon g-2 collaboration, at the Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) in the USA, demonstrated this year that the muon, a tiny subatomic particle that has intrigued scientists for decades, is not behaving as it should. It is more magnetic than expected according to the Standard Model of Physics, the grand theory that describes all the particles that make up matter and the four forces that govern them. This can open the door to a new physics. New discoveries are expected this year.
In early January, US regulators will announce whether a drug that slowed the rate of cognitive decline in a clinical trial may be made available to people with Alzheimer’s disease. Developed by the pharmaceutical company Eisai and the biotech firm Biogen, lecanemab is a monoclonal antibody that kills the amyloid-β protein that accumulates in the brain. The clinical trial included 1,795 people with early-stage Alzheimer’s and showed that lecanemab slowed mental decline by 27% compared to placebo. However, some scientists think this is only a modest benefit, and others are concerned about the drug’s safety.
the nuclear dump
The world’s first nuclear waste storage facility will start operating next year on Olkiluoto, an island off the coast of Finland. Up to 6,500 tons of radioactive uranium packed in copper canisters will be covered with clay and buried inside granite bedrock tunnels 400 meters below ground.
The nuclear material will remain sealed there for several hundred thousand years, when radiation levels will be harmless.