2001 Descartes Award for aids-related work and asymmetric catalysts

2001/11/28 Agirre Ruiz de Arkaute, Aitziber - Elhuyar Zientzia

The Descartes Prize annually awards scientific and technological research derived from European collaboration. On this occasion, two works have been awarded with research leaders in Belgium and the United Kingdom.

This year's Descartes Awards were presented yesterday at the historical library Solvay in Brussels. This prize is available for any scientific work, including economic and human sciences. In the evaluation of the projects, the quality of the work and the collaborative effort are especially considered.

On this occasion they had to decide between about 50 groups presented. One of the awarded works aimed at developing new drugs against the human immunodeficiency virus. The project had the collaboration of researchers from six countries, led by Belgian researcher Jan Balzarini. All had the same goal: to combat the human immunodeficiency virus. For this purpose, new areas that could be blocked during the reproductive cycle of the virus have been studied. The result of this collaboration are new inhibitors that block the reverse transcriptase enzyme, essential for the proliferation of the virus. An inhibitor of these (tenofovir) will receive authorization to use them with people with AIDS before the end of the year, after the US Antiviral Drug Advisory Commission has given its approval.

This collaboration has had other achievements in the fight against viruses that cause hepatitis B and herpes. On the other hand, it has created a European drug analysis service for the human immunodeficiency virus that has allowed a rapid study of thousands of substances in the year.

The other award-winning work aimed at developing new asymmetric catalysts for the generation of chemicals. Often, in the case of compounds containing several stereoisomers, each isomer may have different activity. Therefore, in the pharmaceutical industry, for example, for the drug to be effective it is important to synthesize only the corresponding stereoisomer.

The chemical synthesis of organic molecules of high stereoselectivity is a process of great difficulty. However, the team of the researcher at King's College in London, Michael North, has made a great effort to fine-tune the synthesis of these compounds, indispensable in chemical technology and the pharmaceutical industry.

The jury wanted to highlight the quality of most of the groups that have been presented in yesterday's awards, since most are research projects carried out for many years.

For more information about the Descartes Prize click here.

Gai honi buruzko eduki gehiago

Elhuyarrek garatutako teknologia