Publication 09th September 2022

Darmstadt, 09th September 2022


Nobel Prize for Research on TKTL1: Revealing the Genetic Basis for the Superiority of the Human Brain Compared to Neanderthals

The groundbreaking research of Svante Pääbo and his team, for which the Swedish researcher was awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in Medicine, gives us a completely new insight into the evolution of the human brain compared to Neanderthal man. In their work, the scientists identified the protein TKTL1 as a central building block that contributed significantly to the development of the human brain.

While the brains of Neanderthals and modern humans hardly differ in size, there are significant differences in their shape. However, the exact functional significance of these differences has been unclear until now, especially with respect to the neocortex. This is precisely where the work of Pääbo and his team comes in.

The researchers focused on a specific change in amino acids in the gene TKTL1 that played a key role in the production of basal radial glial cells – those cells that contribute significantly to the formation of the neocortex.

The research results show that the human variant of TKTL1 causes a remarkable increase in the production of neuroprogenitor cells in organoids or non-human brains compared to the archaic one. An indication that we modern humans have an expanded neocortex due to this genetic change.

The work of Svante Pääbo and his team provides a deeper understanding of the evolution of human intelligence and leaves us eagerly anticipating more such findings.

You can view the full research paper here.


Anette Ludwig
Zyagnum AG
Gräfenhäuser Str. 26
64293 Darmstadt
Phone +49 173 769 68 22

About Zyagnum: The Darmstadt-based biotechnology company Zyagnum AG develops diagnostic solutions for human medicine. Zyagnum has a profound understanding of immunological processes and their connection with diseases. For example, the EDIM® technology developed by Zyagnum can be used in blood tests to detect specific antigens in immune cells that may play a role in tumour development. Today, the company employs more than 40 people and was founded by Zyagnum CEO Ralf Schierl together with Johannes Coy in 2007. 

About EDIM®: When the human organism derails and runs towards disease, the immune system is often the first to recognise this, often before any symptoms. The platform technology we have developed, EDIM® (Epitope Detection in Monocytes), uses the mechanisms of the immune system to detect such derailments. The EDIM® technology examines macrophages for antigens that have previously been taken up into the cell interior by these immune cells through phagocytosis – this is why we also call EDIM® an immunological biopsy.

About PanTum Detect®: The PanTum Detect® is based on EDIM® technology and detects the enzymes TKTL1 and DNaseX (Apo10) in macrophages. A large-scale study at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf was able to show that the PanTum Detect® can provide the decisive indication as to which people without typical symptoms and suspected cancer in a healthy screening benefit from further examination by imaging procedures. In the case of the 2022 study, a previously undetected cancer or precancerous lesion was detected in 124 subjects out of more than 5,000 study participants – from 29 different tumour types in the study alone (Positive Predictive Value: 82%).