Science in Denmark has had a pretty good year, with international recognition the reward for the discoverers of a huge Greenlandic ice crater, the Martian medical case and new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s.
On the other hand, good science is not always about making a big splash. The discovery by Aarhus University doctors and researchers that an existing test can be used by GPs to detect colorectal cancer early clearly has the potential to save lives.
DTU’s work on the inner eye infection endophthalmitis is also something that ought to contribute considerably to general well-being.
All the picks below have been covered in more detail at cphpost.dk.
5 Ice-cap crater: In November, a team of international researchers led by the University of Copenhagen found a 31 km-diameter crater beneath the Hiawatha icecap in Greenland created by an iron meteor of around 12 billion tonnes around 12,000 years ago. The discovery was nominated for Science magazine’s ‘breakthrough of the year’ award.
4 Shedding light: Research conducted as part of a PhD study at the DTU Food Institute has led to a breakthrough in the treatment of endophthalmitis, an inner eye infection that can cause blindness if not treated properly and quickly. Using DNA sequencing to study eye fluid, patients can be given tailored treatments that relate to the specific organism causing the disease. Previous DNA analyses yielded inexact results that often led to erroneous conclusions.
3 Put out a stool: An Aarhus University team discovered that GPs can use an existing test to see whether patients who come to them with vague, non-specific symptoms have colorectal cancer. The faecal immunochemical test (FIT) looks for hidden blood in stools that can be an early sign of cancer. The FIT is particularly useful for testing patients who don’t appear to have any of the usual symptoms that cause alarm bells to ring with GPs.
2 Critical research: The Brain Prize, which is awarded by the Danish foundation Lundbeckfonden, was handed over to four international researchers for their critical work on Alzheimer’s disease. Their research was judged to have provided a foundation for the design of drugs to counter the pathogenic processes and raises hopes that it might be possible to either slow or prevent Alzheimer’s.
1 Martian gravitas: A group of Danish students from the University of Copenhagen won a gold medal at the international iGEM competition in Boston in October for devising a medicine case to combat the effects of Martian gravity on bones and muscle tissue. The case is in effect a mini laboratory full of intestinal bacteria that can be used to ‘grow’ medicine that the students hope will aid the astronauts on their mission. As well as producing medicine, the case can also clean medicine before use, thus alleviating the need to carry large stocks of medicine on board or wait months for new supplies to be sent up from Earth.