Geneticist who unmasked lives of ancient humans wins medicine Nobel

Ewen Callaway & Heidi Ledford

Nature | October 03, 2022

Svante Pääbo has been awarded a Nobel prize for discoveries about the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.Credit: Alamy

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded for pioneering studies of human evolution that harnessed precious snippets of DNA found in fossils that are tens of thousands of years old.

The work of Svante Pääbo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, led to the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the discovery of a new group of hominins called the Denisovans, and also spawned the fiercely competitive field of palaeogenomics.

By tracing how genes flowed between ancient hominin populations, researchers have been able to trace these groups’ migrations, as well as the origins of some aspects of modern human physiology, including features of the immune system and mechanisms of adaptation to life at high altitudes.

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Abdala, with three doses, demonstrates 92.28% efficacy

Communist Party First Secretary and President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, on behalf of Cuba, congratulates researchers who in 13 months achieved a global milestone

A three-dose regimen of the Abdala candidate vaccine has demonstrated an efficacy of 92.28 percent, placing it well above the World Health Organization (WHO) requirement of at least 50 percent, to be recognized as an anti-COVID-19 vaccine.
Over the course of 48 hours, from Saturday to Monday, Cuba, a small, poor country, has shaken the world, noted Party First Secretary and President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, in a meeting, yesterday afternoon, with researchers at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), where Abdala was developed.

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Soberana is a go!

Clinical trials of Soberana 02, administered in two doses, indicate effectiveness of 62%, thus surpassing the World Health Organization’s requirement of 50% for an anti-COVID candidate to be recognized as a vaccine

There is a small island country, bathed in the waters of the Caribbean. A country as small as David, with the same courage when the time comes to face a giant. A small country that has struggled and struggles. A small country dressed in olive green.

A country with sons and daughters who wage their battle looking into a microscope, wearing a white lab coat.

A country that has achieved an epic feat, an incalculable, healing feat. What vision to have bet on our own vaccines!

There is a country which, like the world, is confronting an invisible enemy, but our country, our island, must also face a siege, break blockades, invent marvels with our hands practically tied.

A country that rises to the occasion, despite the obstacles. A country working nights in laboratories, in search of the miraculous elixir.

There is a country that, against all odds, now has a vaccine: Soberana.

Today, the flag waves more beautifully than ever and our chests can barely hold the pride,

There is a country within a vial. With every dose sporting a beard and smelling of the Sierra Maestra.

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Patents versus the People

Prabhat Patnaik

IDEAs | May 17, 2021

On October 2, 2020, even before any vaccines against Covid-19 had been approved, India and South Africa had proposed to the WTO that a temporary patent waiver should be granted on all such innovations. In the following months, 100 countries had supported this demand. And on May 5, the US, usually the most ardent defender of the patent system, agreed to a temporary patent waiver on anti-Covid vaccines, committing itself to “text-based negotiations at the WTO”.

The basic argument for such a move arises from the urgent need at present to expand vaccine production. A patent works by creating artificial scarcity so that prices are kept high for a longer period and the innovating firm can make profits that are large enough supposedly to recoup the investment made in developing the patented product, but the scarcity of vaccines is precisely what the world can ill-afford at present. When thousands are dying around the world, saving lives has priority over firms’ profits, for which patents on vaccines must be removed.Read More »


How the Privatization of Medicine in India is Accelerating its COVID-19 Death Toll

Yogesh Jain

People’s Dispatch | November 25, 2020

Spiraling health care expenses in India have been pushing more than 55 million Indians into a state of abject poverty every year. COVID-19 has only worsened the trend for even more families—like Aghan Singh’s.

To ensure that his sick mother received the best treatment, Singh, a self-employed motor mechanic in the small town of Bilaspur, in Chhattisgarh, India, decided to take her to a popular private hospital nearby. She had been running a fever since July 7 and had also developed breathlessness by July 9. Singh rushed her to the hospital, and when they reached the emergency department around 8 pm., her oxygen levels were dangerously low. The hospital ordered a battery of tests for COVID-19 and quickly admitted her to an intensive care unit to give her oxygen and medicine. In the first eight hours of his mother being admitted to the hospital, Singh deposited Rs 34,000 ($455) and then paid another Rs 1,96,000 ($2,627) over the next four days. To arrange money for his mother’s treatment, Singh had to sell off two and a half acres of land that he owned in his native village. Despite all his efforts, his mother’s condition worsened progressively, and she died on July 16. While still grieving the loss of his beloved mother, he was further stressed about how his family would survive the next month with most of his resources having been exhausted during his mother’s treatment.Read More »


Virologists who Discovered Hepatitis C Win Medicine Nobel

Ewen Callaway & Heidi Ledford

Nature | October 05, 2020

Left to right: Dr. Alter, Rice and Houghton, winners of Medicine or Physiology 2020 Nobel prize.
Harvey Alter, Charles Rice and Michael Houghton (left to right) won the 2020 Nobel prize in medicine for their research on the hepatitis C virus.Credit: NIH History Office, John Abbott/The Rockefeller University, Richard Siemens/University of Alberta

A trio of scientists who identified and characterized the virus responsible for many cases of hepatitis and liver disease — hepatitis C — are the recipients of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The winners are Harvey Alter at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; Michael Houghton, now at the University of Alberta in Canada; and Charles Rice, now at Rockefeller University in New York City. Their work on the hepatitis C virus paved the way for effective treatments against the infection that are now available.Read More »


The Antibiotic Paradox: Why Companies Can’t Afford to Create Life-saving Drugs

Maryn McKenna

Nature | August 19, 2020

A doctor listens to the lungs of a patient with tuberculosis with a stethoscope

A patient in South Africa battles a strain of tuberculosis that is resistant to multiple antibiotics. Drug resistance is a growing problem with many diseases. Credit: Joao Silva/NYT/Redux/eyevine

As the COVID-19 pandemic caught hold early this year, a small drug company outside Philadelphia was struggling to market a compound that could help patients battling for their lives.

Paratek Pharmaceuticals had spent more than 20 years developing and testing an antibiotic named omadacycline (Nuzyra), which went on sale in the United States in 2019 for use against bacterial infections. Although antibiotics can’t fight the virus that causes COVID-19, almost 15% of people hospitalized with the disease go on to develop bacterial pneumonias, some of which are resistant to existing antibiotics.

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On Revolutionary Medicine

by Ernesto Che Guevara

Che Guevara - Wikipedia

This simple celebration, another among the hundreds of public functions with which the Cuban people daily celebrate their liberty, the progress of all their revolutionary laws, and their advances along the road to complete independence, is of special interest to me.

Almost everyone knows that years ago I began my career as a doctor. And when I began as a doctor, when I began to study medicine, the majority of the concepts I have today, as a revolutionary, were absent from my store of ideals.

Like everyone, I wanted to succeed. I dreamed of becoming a famous medical research scientist; I dreamed of working indefatigably to discover something which would be used to help humanity, but which signified a personal triumph for me. I was, as we all are, a child of my environment.

After graduation, due to special circumstances and perhaps also to my character, I began to travel throughout America, and I became acquainted with all of it. Except for Haiti and Santo Domingo, I have visited, to some extent, all the other Latin American countries. Because of the circumstances in which I traveled, first as a student and later as a doctor, I came into close contact with poverty, hunger and disease; with the inability to treat a child because of lack of money; with the stupefaction provoked by the continual hunger and punishment, to the point that a father can accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident, as occurs often in the downtrodden classes of our American homeland. And I began to realize at that time that there were things that were almost as important to me as becoming a famous or making a significant contribution to medical science: I wanted to help those people.Read More »

Scientists have eliminated HIV in mice for the first time. Is a cure for humans coming?

A Journal of People report

Scientists have successfully eliminated HIV from the DNA of infected mice for the first time, bringing them one-step closer to curing the virus in humans. A research report says this advancement of science.

The research report – “Sequential LASER ART and CRISPR Treatments Eliminate HIV-1 in a Subset of Infected Humanized Mice” – has been published in Nature Communications (volume 10, Article number: 2753 (2019)) on July 2, 2019.Read More »

Universalism in Medicine

by Sisir K Majumdar

Frontier | Autumn Number, Vol. 48, No. 14 – 17, Oct 11 – Nov 7, 2015

There was always interchange of ideas between East and West-that have been a mutual stimulant to medical thought in both hemispheres. It was a stimulus based both on the continuity of the medical heritage of the past in its preservation and development within different cultures and the contact between these cultures that gave rise to a synthesis of ideas which has been of mutual benefit to all peoples all over the globe. Following the fall of the Roman Empire around 400 AD, when Western Europe sank into the Dark Ages (400—1000 AD) of semi-barbarism the great corpus of classical Greek medical literature was preserved in the emergent Islamic Empire of the Eastern Mediterranean. Here, many medical works of ancient Greece were preserved in Arabic transalation which would otherwise have been lost. Medical knowledge was further advanced especially in the fields of materia medica and Alchemy. Alchemy is the predecessor of modern scientific chemistry. It was an art by which its devotees sought, with the aid of a mixture of mysticism, astrology, practical chemistry and quackery, to transmute base metals into gold to prolong human life, etc. It flourished from about 500 AD till the Middle Ages (1100—1500 AD] when it gradually fell into disrepute.Read More »