Svetlana Mojsov, chemist: “I don't know if they erased me from the history of Ozempic for being a woman” | Science | EUROtoday

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Millions of individuals obtain best-selling medicine to deal with their weight problems or diabetes, akin to Ozempic, a drug from the Danish firm Novo Nordisk that since its authorization in 2018 has generated a world expectation that has not been remembered since Viagra. American chemist Svetlana Mojsov, born 77 years in the past in Skopje (within the former Yugoslavia, now North Macedonia), led among the first analysis within the Eighties. Mojsov found the lively sequence of an intestinal hormone, GLP-1 , which stimulates the pancreas to launch extra insulin when blood sugar is excessive. That discovery made it attainable for Novo Nordisk to develop Ozempic and for different pharmaceutical firms to create related medicines, in a market that at the moment strikes billions of euros every year, however Mojsov's identify was erased from historical past.

Three different scientists have since received awards for the invention of the GLP-1 hormone: the Americans Joel Habener and Daniel Drucker and the Dane Jens Juul Holst, who additionally had invaluable roles within the analysis. This Wednesday, the Princess of Asturias Foundation introduced that it was as soon as once more awarding the three, however this time including Svetlana Mojsov, from Rockefeller University, in New York, and the American physician Jeffrey M. Friedman, who found leptin in 1994. one other hormone that regulates urge for food. After a long time of oblivion, Mojsov celebrates in a phone interview with EL PAÍS that she is reminded of her important function in one of many medical revolutions of the twenty first century.

Ask. You helped uncover the hormone GLP-1. Why has it been erased out of your historical past?

Answer. I don't know, I actually don't know. It's a query I at all times requested myself and I don't have a solution, however now I'm very completely happy. There had been many articles in scientific journals that misrepresented or minimized my work. I wrote them letters to appropriate that data. The first one was within the journal Cell they usually printed a correction instantly, in simply two months. I additionally requested for a correction to Nature, they usually additionally printed it in September. I'm stunned that nobody observed this, till a journalist from the journal Science found my story and wrote an article, so I'm grateful to science journalists.

P. Do you suppose this erasure of historical past has something to do with you being a girl and the opposite three being males?

R. I at all times get requested this query and I don't suppose I do know. Maybe. I by no means felt that being a girl was an impediment to attaining skilled success. When I got here to Rockefeller University I by no means felt that means. Both Bruce Merrifield, who directed my doctoral thesis, and Ralph Steinman, in whose division I labored for 20 years, supported girls scientists [ambos ganaron después el Nobel]. They supported me lots, so I don't know. I actually don't know, I say it truthfully. But I additionally should say that many ladies have written to me telling me that they establish with my story. There appears to be a sure share of girls who really feel that their contributions are minimized by males as nicely.

P. You discovered in 1996 that the patents for GLP-1 had been granted to Joel Habener of Massachusetts General Hospital as sole inventor. What did he really feel?

R. I used to be very stunned, however I didn't get offended. I used to be merely stunned by that omission. The solely approach to attempt to appropriate that was to work with a regulation agency, however even then it took 10 years. I used to be very stunned. People requested me if I did it for cash, however that wasn't it, actually. I already knew that Novo Nordisk was engaged on it and was assured that GLP-1 would turn into a brand new drug sooner or later, nevertheless it by no means occurred to me that it will make a lot cash. These medicine weren’t usually bestsellers, so it was not an financial concern. In truth, the patents didn’t make a lot cash, as a result of the primary licensed drug, liraglutide or Victoza, was launched in 2010 and the patent expired in 2012. So there have been solely two years of exploitation rights, firstly of every thing, a time That had nothing to do with what is occurring now.

P. This 12 months, gross sales of 24 billion euros are anticipated for Novo Nordisk for its medicine Ozempic and Wegovy. Both mimic the exercise of GLP-1. You don't get a share?

R. No, no, nothing, nothing. The reality is that I didn't get into science to generate income, I simply needed to make some necessary discovery and I achieved my purpose, so I'm very completely happy. If I had needed to generate income I might have devoted myself to finance.

P. In October you’ll come to Spain for the awards ceremony in Oviedo and Joel Habener can be there. What is your relationship like?

R. We haven't spoken in 30 years, we have now no relationship. Each one went their very own means. We'll see the way it goes.

P. Would Ozempic exist with out the pioneering work of Svetlana Mojsov?

R. The reply just isn’t sure or no. I found the lively sequence of GLP-1, however this lively type, GLP-1 (7-37), was not very secure. At Novo Nordisk they took this lively sequence and made it extra secure within the blood. First we had liraglutide or Victoza, which was injected as soon as a day, and now we have now Ozempic, which is much more secure. Novo Nordisk's contribution was crucial and should be given credit score. I feel it must be seen as a collaborative effort.

P. The Nobel Prize admits a most variety of three winners. The Princess of Asturias has awarded 5 folks. Which two would you take away?

R. I don't take into consideration prizes or the Nobel. That query ought to be requested of the Karolinska Institute.

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