While the entertainment industry's awards shows are beginning to clog the airways with completely mindless fluff, a recent award by the editors of Science magazine is going relatively unnoticed. In the December10th issue of Science , AAAS announced a series of Breakthrough of the Year awards.
In the life sciences, this award went to work on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). It is unfortunate that this has passed under the radar of the general public, because, unlike the Emmy's, American Idol, and Golden Globe awards - this one actually means something.
In case you are not familiar with iPS cells - they are basically adult stem cells that have been genetically "convinced" to revert to a less specialized state. In other words, they are adult stem cells that have been reverted towards becoming embryonic stem (ES) cells. The work in this area has progressed radily over the past year, and iPS cells are beginning to gain the attention of the medical community. Already iPS lines have been developed for treatment of a number of diseases, including Down syndrome, Parkinson's, and Huntington disease.
While the debate over the sources and usages of ES cells continues to be battled in Washington, the scientific community has found a potential way to bypass the problem. Within a short period of time it may be possible to remove an individual's own adult stem cells and revert them to ES cells for treatment of a variety of diseases and illnesses. No longer will anyone care where the cells came from.
I would love to see a prime-time award show on this breakthrough - it would be far more interesting than watching over-dressed and overpaid actors win awards.
2008 Breakthrough of the Year
By Michael Windelspecht | January 18th 2009 08:31 AM | Print | E-mail