Promising first results for oral treatment with COVID-19

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Ardem Patapoutian (left) and David Julius (right), 2021 Nobel Prize winners in medicine. Credit: Scripps Research / Noah Berger

Physiologist David Julius and molecular biologist Ardem Patapoutian won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the molecular basis of our ability to perceive temperature and touch. Julius used capsaicin – the compound that gives chili peppers their strength – to track down a protein called TRPV1 that responds to painful heat. Patapoutian has identified receptors in the skin and other organs that respond to mechanical forces, such as those generated by touch and pressure.

Nature | 5 minutes to read

Read more: The Quest to Decipher How Body Cells Feel Touch (Nature | 11 min read, as of 2020

NASA has decided not to rename its soon-to-launch flagship observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, after investigating whether its namesake, former NASA administrator James Webb, was involved in the persecution of gay men and women. lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s. The agency says it has found no evidence to support these claims. NASA did not share the detailed results of the investigation, leaving some astronomers frustrated. “Despite all the institution’s rhetoric on equity and diversity, they do not seem particularly concerned with public accountability for sensitive issues that have impacted a historically marginalized group,” write a group of four astronomers who have led the petition for the telescope to be renamed.

Nature | 6 minutes to read

An antiviral pill called molnupiravir has been shown to halve the risk of hospitalization or death for people newly diagnosed with COVID-19, according to its manufacturers. Merck (called MSD outside of the United States and Canada) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics developed the drug. Intermediate data, which has not yet been peer reviewed, was collected from more than 700 people who had laboratory confirmed mild to moderate COVID-19 and at least one risk factor associated with poor test results. disease. Of those who received molnupiravir soon after infection, 7.3% were hospitalized or died within 29 days, compared with 14.1% of those who received a placebo. The treatment is a pill – a big plus over antiviral injections that work against COVID-19, such as remdesivir.

STAT | 5 minutes to read

Reference: Merck press release

Features & Reviews

The main thruster returns to Earth after a SpaceX rocket launched four people into Earth orbit.

Credit: John Kraus / Inspiration4

On September 15, the after-sunset launch of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 capsule created this “space jellyfish,” a photographic phenomenon in which rocket exhaust fumes are illuminated by the Sun from below the horizon.

See more of the month’s sharpest science photos, curated by Naturethe photo team of.

Nature | Scroll quietly

For many disabled scientists, academic research spaces and career paths remain out of reach, both literally and figuratively. To mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month in the United States (October; a similar event in the United Kingdom, Disability History Month, runs from November 18 to December 18), four academics people with disabilities share tips for dealing with daily professional challenges, when to seek resources and support, and how to teach colleagues the best ways to help. “The more successful you are, the more pressure you’ll feel as a researcher with a disability … because you challenge your peers’ normative view of what a successful scientist should look like,” says Vivian Cheung, RNA biologist and pediatric neurologist. “But to change the norm, we need more scientists with disabilities as role models.”

Nature | 10 minutes to read

Before the dawn of New Years Eve 2019, vaccinologist Barney Graham was catching up with coronavirus infections spreading in China. “FOR YOUR INFORMATION. Prepare for 2020,” he wrote in an email to Kizzmekia Corbett, his colleague at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, passing on a story about the outbreak. Graham’s soft-spoken, diversity-oriented leadership had assembled a team that was uniquely prepared to produce a vaccine against a novel pandemic coronavirus in record time.

The Washington Post | 17 minutes to read

Quote of the day

Chemist Jose-Luis Jimenez, co-author of a review that highlighted the role of airborne transmission in the spread of respiratory pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, explains why the idea has often met with resistance. . (The Telegraph | 6 min read)

Reference: Science paper

About Antoine L. Cassell

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