These are the scientific events that will mark 2021 | Digital Trends Spanish
If you had to bet on a scientific event that will mark 2021, there is probably a consensus that it will be associated with COVID-19. The progress of the global vaccination process, the confirmation of the effectiveness of the antidotes and the immunity time they offer will top the informative agenda.
However, the return to a “new normal”, the teachings of SARS-CoV-2 and the change of administration in the United States are also expected to reactivate issues that had been postponed during 2020.
Origin of COVID-19
Beyond vaccines, one of the main milestones of COVID-19 will be the mission of the World Health Organization (WHO) that will try to identify the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The team’s work will begin in January, in Wuhan, and includes visits to markets where meat and animals are sold, as well as interviews with the first infected. According Nature, the mission could deliver preliminary results by the end of 2021, although the process will take years.
February, with eyes on Mars
Three missions will arrive on Mars in the course of February: from the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates. The Tianwen-1 mission will search for water and signs of life using 13 instruments, including cameras, radars and particle analyzers. NASA’s Perseverance rover will collect samples from Martian soil, look for signs of life, and test a device for creating oxygen. Meanwhile, the Emirati probe Amal will orbit around the planet to collect data on its seasons, climate and atmosphere.
The arrival of Joe Biden to the White House could give a boost to the agenda against climate change, relegated during the administration of Donald Trump. In fact, one of its first steps is expected to be the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement. In November 2020, the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow could set further emission cuts, with the European Union and China outlook to be carbon neutral in 2050-2060.
Advances against Alzheimer’s
The US authorities must decide whether to authorize the drug aducanumab, from the pharmaceutical company Biogen, to combat Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab is an antibody that binds to the brain protein amyloid, considered the trigger for the disease. Two phase III clinical trials have yielded conflicting results and one FDA advisory panel does not recommend.
Advances against other diseases
Scientists also hope that research on the SARS-Cov-2 virus will help find ways to block other viral diseases, such as HIV, with injectable antiviral drugs – cabotegravir – or the use of combinations of monoclonal antibodies. Scientists also hope that the FDA will authorize the first immunotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that so far has no cure.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) will publish an update of the guidelines for stem cell research. The document could include guidance on studies of “human embryo-like structures” grown from stem cells in vitro, as well as providing ammunition to lengthen the “14 day” rule.
The great telescope
NASA plans to present in October 2020 the large special James Webb telescope, considered the largest and most powerful ever built. With an investment of $ 8.8 billion, you are challenged to emulate the achievements of the Hubble telescope.
There are four vaccines against COVID-19 that began to be applied in 2020, but it is expected that in 2021 new antidotes will be added, such as those from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson. In addition to continuing to roll out the immunization process, there will also be more clarity on the effectiveness of vaccines and the protection they offer.