ACHIEVEMENTS AND DISCOVERIES IN MEDICAL SCIENCE IN 2020

January 5, 2021 0 By FM

January

6
The American College of Physicians issued clinical guidelines for exogenous testosterone treatment in adult men with age-related low levels of testosterone. The guidelines are supported by American Academy of Family Physicians.

27
Scientists demonstrated a ‘Trojan horse’ designer-nanoparticle that makes blood cells eat away, from the inside out, portions of atherosclerotic plaque that cause heart attacks and are the current most common cause of death globally.

February

4
Within a week of scientists reporting overviews of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, later classified as a pandemic, the drugs remdesivir and chloroquine were reported to be effective to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.

5
Scientists first reported the development of a CRISPR-Cas12a-based gene editing system that can probe and control several genes at once which can detect cancer cells and execute therapeutic immune-modulatory responses.

10
Bats’ heightened immune responses to viruses like SARS-CoV-2 can facilitate the evolution of rapidly-replicating viruses
that likely cause enhanced virulence to infect secondary hosts such as humans, researchers found.

12
Researchers published the discovery of a new class of glycopeptide antibiotics with a novel mode of action, the known antibiotic complestatin and the newly discovered corbomycin. These have low levels of resistance development.

20
World’s most powerful supercomputer, SUMMIT, was used to screen molecules which bind to either SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein or to its human ACE2 interface. A ranked list of compounds was published which may be repurposed for COVID-19.

March

4
Scientists reported the discovery of a second mechanism that repairs interstrand crosslink (ICL) DNA damage caused by the alcohol metabolite acetaldehyde next to the Fanconi anemia pathway, which cuts DNA to remove the ICL: enzymes cutting the crosslink itself.

14
Scientists reported that, a CRISPR-based strategy, called PAC-MAN (Prophylactic Antiviral Crispr in huMAN cells) can be used prophylactically as well as therapeutically against coronavirus strains as it could be tailored to other RNA-targets quickly.

17
Scientists report that the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19, originated naturally, and not otherwise.  However, Chinese medical researchers were studying bat coronaviruses to find ways
to get into human cells as early as 2014.

20
World Health Organization announced the official beginning of the ‘Solidarity’ Trial, a large trial for testing the drugs remdesivir, chloroquine-hydroxychloroquine combination and ritonavir-lopinavir combination with and without interferon-beta.

20
A research paper published stated that SARS-CoV-2 likely jumped from pangolins to humans. The study found that pangolins could be an intermediary host after the virus likely emerged in bats. There were speculations about this earlier.

27
A government document reported that a 57-year-old woman, who tested COVID-positive on 10 December 2019, as reported in The Wall Street Journal on 6 March 2020, may have been patient zero in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

29
Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center reported evidence that coronavirus disease 2019, related to the COVID-19 pandemic, may be transmitted through air, and that a loss of smell and loss of taste could be early signs of infection.

April

6
The metabolic genes in the genomes of large viruses called Nucleocytoviricota can reprogramme fundamental aspects of their host’s carbon metabolism and that they are drivers of evolutionary innovation in metabolic genes, researchers reported.

9
Scientists reported six novel coronaviruses, and one known alpha-coronavirus. The study was part of the United States’ PREDICT program which was scheduled to be ended by March 2020 but extended on 1 April 2020 due to COVID-19.

15
Scientists described and visualized the atomic structure and mechanical action of the bacteria-killing bacteriocin R2 pyocin which can help the engineering of nanomachines such as for targeted antibiotics.

May

1
Scientists discovered the closest relative of SARS-CoV-2 in terms of the virus genome reported todate in a bat. RmYN02 has a 93.3% nucleotide identity with SARS-CoV-2 and also contains a four amino-acid insertion at the S1/S2 cleavage site.

11
Researchers reported the development of synthetic red blood cells that for the first time have all of the natural cells’ properties and methods to load functional cargos such as haemoglobin, drugs, magnetic nanoparticles.

21
Researchers developed a way to use smartphone images of a person’s inner eyelids to assess blood haemoglobin levels which is normally measured by the use of an haemoglobinometer. The method is said to have high precision.

June

10
Scientists report evidence that females’ follicular fluid’ has an ability for differential attraction of sperm from specific males. The study found that this mechanism did not reinforce pre-mating human mate choice decisions.

July

16
Scientists have identified 10 genomic loci which appear to intrinsically influence healthspan, lifespan, and longevity, of which half have not been reported previously at genome-wide significance. Most are associated with cardiovascular disease.

August

11
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia committed the first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine ‘Gam-COVID-Vac’. However, the claim became controversial due to the widely perceived lack of sufficient testing of the vaccine.

September

4
Scientists reported the discovery of a nanobody from alpacas, Ty1, with the capacity to block SARS-CoV-2 from entering human cells in vitro due to targeting its receptor binding domain, blocking it from binding with ACE2.

October

1
Researchers discover a novel overlapping gene (OLG) (a gene within a gene), named ORF3d, in the COVID-19 virus genome that makes it a pandemic. The gene was identified before, but only in a variant of coronavirus from pangolins.

November

10
The first successful phase III trial of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, was announced by drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech. Pfizer claimed a reduction of infections by over 90%, which was later specified to be 95%.

16
Results of phase III trials of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine were announced, the company claimed a 94.5% reduction of COVID-19, including severe illnesses. The vaccine is easier to distribute than BNT162b2 as no ultra-cold storage is required.

23
Preliminary test results for AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine, developed in collaboration with Oxford University were released. The company claimed 70% efficacy in the overall study, and 90% in a subsample study.

December

11
Kenneth Baillie at Roslin Institute identified five genetic sequences that were more common in those patients who became critically ill with COVID-19. These were involved in inflammatory processes and the body’s response to viruses.

14
India issued guidelines for a countrywide COVID-19 vaccination programme which will be monitored through Co-WIN (COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network) system. About 30 crore people will be vaccinated during the initial phase.

15
Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York became the first person in America to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, live on television, as part of the vaccine campaign against COVID-19.