5 scientific breakthroughs expected in 2023

The year 2023 also promises to continue building on those advances.

The Vera C. Rubin telescope camera has thousands of times the capacity of a conventional camera. Photo: J.ORRELL/SLAC NATIONAL ACCELERATOR LABORATORY.

2022 was a year of incredible advances in the sciencemedicine and space exploration that laid the foundation for new breakthroughs in 2023.

From NASA’s Artemis program, which turned our attention back to Moon exploration, to new methods of developing vaccines quickly and effectively.

The year 2023 also promises to continue building on those progress.

These are five advances that are expected.

1. The new generation of vaccines

Thanks to the success of mRNA vaccines against the covid-19 pandemic, all kinds of vaccines are being developed with this technology against a series of diseases.

In the crosshairs of vaccines are malaria, tuberculosis, genital herpes, HIV, cystic fibrosis, cancer and various types of lung diseases, among others.

German drugmaker BioNTech plans to start the first human trials of its mRNA vaccine against malaria and tuberculosis in a few weeks, while Moderna, from the US, will do so against the viruses that cause genital herpes and shingles.

One of the most promising mRNA vaccines is against cancer. They are designed to recognize cancer cells and destroy them.

2. Advanced space observation

The world was stunned by new images of the universe taken by the powerful James Webb Space Telescope, the instrument launched by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency that will continue to deliver discoveries for decades.

But there will be more deep exploration instruments.

ESA plans to launch the Euclid telescope in 2023, which will go into solar orbit for six years to create a 3D map of the universe. For its part, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is developing a mission that will detect X-ray radiation from distant stars and galaxies.

And in Chile, the Vera C. Rubin telescope, which has a camera with a detection power of more than 3,000 million pixels, is ready to take images next July. The telescope has the capacity to record the entire southern sky in just three days.

3. Missions to the Moon

NASA’s Artemis program, which sent the Orion capsule to the moon without people on board and successfully returned it to Earth this December, is just the beginning of other visits to our satellite.

The United Arab Emirates already launched its Rashid lunar rover on December 11, scheduled to investigate the lunar surface. On that date NASA also sent an orbital satellite that will explore the composition of frozen water deposits in craters and permanently darkened regions on the Moon.

There is also the module of Japan’s HAKUTO-R, which will attempt a soft landing in April, as well as India’s Chandrayaan-3, which seeks to land near the moon’s south pole in mid-2023.

One of the most anticipated missions will be the first civilian flight to the Moon. Eleven people will go on a six-day trip aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX company’s Starship rocket.

4. CRISPR genetic engineering

2023 could be the year that CRISPR-Cas9 therapy is approved, a gene editing technique that allows a DNA strand to be altered, cutting part of it and reconstituting it to form a new sequence.

The treatment has shown promising results in clinical trials against two genetic blood disorders, including sickle cell disease.

Pharmaceutical companies Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics are developing the treatment known as exa-cel, which will be submitted for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration next March.

The go-ahead will make exa-cel available to patients with sickle cell anemia, a severe structural deformity of red blood cells that impairs blood circulation.

5. Medications against Alzheimer’s

In November of this year, the achievement of a drug capable of slowing down the destruction of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s was announced, which was hailed as a momentous advance.

In early January 2023, the US regulator will announce whether it can be made available for the treatment of patients, although the drug is only effective in the early stages of the disease.

This is the drug lecanemab, which attacks the sticky plaque – called beta-amyloid – that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

In a field of research plagued with failures, this drug is considered “the beginning of Alzheimer’s therapies,” according to experts.

Another drug, called blarcamesine, which activates a protein that improves the stability of neurons, will continue its clinical trials. It is developed by the pharmaceutical company Anavex Life Sciences.

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