Spooky theory, leukaemia drugs top Nobel tips-Thomson Reuters
Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:00am EDT
* At least one Thomson Reuters Nobel pick has won each year
* Is time ripe for entanglement, leukaemia, dendrimer
* Stem cell scientists also seen as possible winners
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Researchers who developed
ground-breaking leukaemia drugs, discovered dendrimers and
delved into the intricacies of what Einstein dubbed "spooky
action" are among Thomson Reuters 2011 top tips to win
Nobel prizes for science.
Nobel prediction expert David Pendlebury's annual forecast
is made using the company's "Web of Knowledge" data on how often
a scientist's published papers are used and cited as a basis for
further investigation by other researchers.
"In the scientific community, citations ... can serve as
another form of peer review," said Pendlebury, a citation
analyst at Thomson Reuters research services.
"The more cited a scientist is, the more well-respected the
author tends to be amongst his or her peers, which can be a
predictor of awards like the Nobel prize."
Winners of the 2011 Nobels are due to be announced in early
October and at least one of the picks from Pendlebury's
prediction list has won every year. He makes predictions for the
four science prizes, not for Peace and Literature.
Among Thomson Reuters favourites for the Medicine prize are
three scientists from the United States -- Brian Druker,
Nicholas Lydon and Charles Sawyers -- who discovered and
developed ground-breaking new drugs called imatinib and
dasatinib for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).
So-called tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs such as imatinib,
marketed by Swiss drugmaker Novartis as Glivec or
Gleevec, and dasatinib, sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb as
Sprycel, have transformed treatment of CML and are credited with
turning it from a fatal cancer into a manageable condition.
"This was a fundamental discovery in medicine ... with a
fantastic result which is often referred to in terms like 'magic
bullet'," said Pendlebury. "It has really given a new paradigm
for the treatment of cancer."
He noted that Druker, Lydon and Sawyers won the 2009 Lasker
award, widely considered a good predictor of Nobel winners, for
their work. "It seems to me that all things are in alignment for
a Nobel prize for this discovery."
WILL THE NOBELS SPOOK EINSTEIN?
Also on Pendlebury's Medicine list are Robert Langer and
Joseph Vacanti, who pioneered work in regenerative medicine and
who in 2005 founded the company InVivo Therapeutics to develop
stem cell treatments for people with spinal cord injuries.
For Chemistry, Pendlebury points to Jean Frechet and Donald
Tomalia, who discovered dendrimers -- a class of tiny synthetic
compounds that can be designed for use in medicine, electronics
and materials industries -- and to Martin Karplus for pioneering
simulations of the molecular dynamics of biomolecules.
Nobels often go to groups of three researchers, so French
scientist Alain Aspect, American John Clauser and Austrian Anton
Zeilinger may be in with a chance of the Physics prize for their
work on quantum entanglement, a notion that an exasperated
Albert Einstein once described as "spooky action at a distance".
Quantum entanglement involves the theory that particles can
be connected in such a way that changing the state of one
instantly affects the other, even when they are miles apart.
Entanglement plays an important role in the development of
super-fast quantum computers, which scientists believe could
outperform conventional computers by being able to test many
possible solutions to a problem at once.
Aspect, Clauser and Zeilinger confirmed the entanglement
phenomenon in a series of sophisticated experiments during the
1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and in 2010 won the Wolf Prize in
Physics for their work.
"While a full description of the kind that Einstein wanted
is still not in anybody's pocket, these experiments have been
fundamental in physics in the 20th century," said Pendlebury.
"They have confirmed spookiness at a distance. And I think
Einstein would continue to be annoyed that there is not a better
explanation for how this occurs."
(Editing by Louise Ireland)