STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish scientist Svante Paabo won this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for discoveries about human evolution that provided key insights into our immune systems and what makes us unique compared to our extinct cousins, he said. the award panel.
Paabo has spearheaded the development of new techniques that allowed researchers to compare the genome of modern humans and that of other hominins: Neanderthals and Denisovans.
While Neanderthal bones were first discovered in the mid-19th century, only by unlocking their DNA, often referred to as the code of life, have scientists been able to fully understand the links between species.
This included the time modern humans and Neanderthals split as a species about 800,000 years ago, said Anna Wedell, chair of the Nobel Committee.
“Paabo and his team also surprisingly found that gene flow had occurred from Neanderthals to Homo sapiens, showing that they had children together during periods of coexistence,” he said.
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This transfer of genes between hominin species affects how the immune system of modern humans reacts to infections, such as the coronavirus. About 1-2% of people outside of Africa have Neanderthal genes.
Paabo, 67, did his award-winning studies in Germany at the University of Munich and at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Paabo is the son of Sune Bergstrom, who won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1982.
The medicine prize kicked off a week of Nobel Prize announcements. It continues on Tuesday with the physics award, on Wednesday with the chemistry award and on Thursday with the literature award. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics prize on October 1. 10
Last year’s drug winners were David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries about how the human body perceives temperature and touch.
The prizes include a cash reward of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be awarded on December 1. 10. The money comes from a legacy left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.
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