We have selected the top ten scientific breakthroughs in the year 2019. In the first positions, the photograph of the black hole, the face of the Denisovans and Hope for Ebola patients. In addition, treatment for cystic fibrosis and many more. Science trivia questions and answers are the other way to know more about scientific advances.
The first image of a black hole:
Undoubtedly, the great scientific news of 2019 was the image of a black hole. This black hole is 55 million light-years from Earth and is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun.
To achieve this, the signals of eight radio telescopes scattered throughout the planet were connected and it was possible to form a virtual telescope the size of the Earth with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.
The rocks present in the extinction of the dinosaurs:
Another of this year’s great investigations brings with it a new hypothesis that explains the last great mass extinction.
An international study, with the participation of the CSIC, showed a few months ago that the impact of an asteroid on the Mexican peninsula of Yucatan 66 million years ago caused the acidification of the oceans, contributing to the last great mass extinction that affected almost 70% of the species on our planet. Large reptiles such as the Mosasaurs disappeared, as did much of the calcareous plankton that lived in surface waters.
These results confirm that the marine extinction was due to the gases emitted by the impact and not the cessation of photosynthesis due to the darkness generated by the resulting dust cloud, as previously believed.
So were the Denisovans:
The reconstruction of the appearance of the mysterious Denisovans from the bones found is another of the great findings of these last twelve months.
About 50,000 years ago, the modern human being lived with other hominids such as the Neanderthals – of whom we know a lot thanks to their numerous fossils found in Europe and Asia – and the Denisovans – of whom there are hardly any remains.
The latter was discovered only a decade ago from the analysis of their DNA, contrary to the rest of the human species identified thanks to their fossils. The remains of Denisovans found – a phalanx of a little finger, three teeth, and a lower jaw – were too few to provide information about their appearance.
However, an international team of scientists managed to reconstruct the appearance of the mysterious Denisovans thanks to the genomic analysis of the little finger phalanx.
Hope for Ebola patients:
Ebola is a virus that emerged in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has since killed thousands of people. This year, in the midst of an outbreak, scientists identified two drugs that dramatically reduce death rates from this disease.
Both are antibodies, one isolated from a survivor of a 1976 Ebola outbreak and the other is a mixture of three antibodies produced in mice with humanized immune systems.
In one trial, about 70% of patients who received one of those drugs survived, compared to about 50% of those who received either of the other two drugs.
Treatment for cystic fibrosis:
In October, scientists celebrated a milestone for gene-based drugs: approving an effective treatment for most cases of cystic fibrosis (CF), a life-threatening disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs the digestive tract and other areas of the body.
Cystic fibrosis strikes when two mutated copies of the gene are inherited. The treatment, called Trikafta, is a combination of three drugs that corrects the effects of the most common mutation behind the disease. For those with the mutation – about 90% of all CF patients – it could turn CF from progressive disease into a more manageable chronic disease.
In clinical trials, the drug increased lung capacity by 10% to 15% and reduced CF complications. However, amid the excitement a shadow hangs: the price is over $ 300,000 a year and is supposed to be taken for life.