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One of the First People to Synthesize an Enzyme Dies

Ralph Hirschmann, who led one of the teams that first synthesized an enzyme, died from kidney disease at the age of 87, reports the Los Angeles Times. In 1969, Hirschmann and his colleague at Merck, Robert Denkewalter, and an independent group made up of Bruce Merrifield and Bernd Gutte at Rockefeller University announced that they had synthesized ribonuclease. In 1984, Merrifield received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his methodology. Hirschmann led the medicinal chemistry team at Merck Research Laboratories, where he helped develop Mevacor (for high cholesterol), Vasotec (for high blood pressure), and Proscar (for enlarged prostates). After retiring from Merck in 1987, Hirschmann worked on peptidomimetics at the University of Pennsylvania until 2002. He received the National Medal of Science in 2000 from President Clinton. "His creative contributions to chemistry and chemical biology inspired a whole generation of scientists to pursue the discovery of new medicines," says Paul Anderson, a former president of the American Chemical Society and friend.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.