The drugs known as “GLP-1 receptor agonists” are hailed by the journal Science as a scientific breakthrough for 2023. Originally developed for diabetes, these drugs mimic an intestine hormone called “glucagon-like peptide-1” (GLP-1). They’ve recently shown significant weight loss benefits with manageable side effects.

Two clinical trials discovered broader health benefits beyond weight loss. They reduced symptoms of heart failure, decreased the risk of heart attacks and strokes in obese individuals. Additionally, ongoing trials explore their potential use in treating drug addiction, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Science recognized these drugs as the achievement of the year.

However, concerns arise about their cost, availability, drug side effects, and the potential need for indefinite use. Doctors worry that non-obese individuals use these drugs to lose weight rapidly.
Science’s achievements for 2023 also include
– progress in Alzheimer’s treatments,
– the discovery of underground hydrogen sources,
– advocacy for fairer wages for early-career scientists worldwide,
– confirmation of human footprints dating back 21,000 to 23,000 years in an ancient New Mexico lake,
– worrying slowdowns in the biological absorption and trapping of carbon from the atmosphere in the ocean (known as “biological pump”),
– signals from mergers of massive black holes,
– weather forecasting advancements using artificial intelligence,
– new malaria vaccines,
– the development of exascale supercomputing promising unprecedented computational power across various scientific fields.

The list also highlights the year’s scientific setbacks, such as problems within the U.S. Antarctic Program, ongoing disputes over the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, the controversial claim and retraction of achieving room-temperature superconductivity, reduced usage of X (formerly Twitter) by scientists leading to fragmentation of online scientific communities, and X’s decision to halt data sharing with researchers, hindering studies on polarization and misinformation. The European Union legislation demanding platforms like X to grant independent researchers data access from January 1, 2024, is highlighted, but its effectiveness remains to be seen in the coming year.