Monday, October 4, 2010

Nobel Prizes, Pretty worthless now-a-days

For those of you who still think the Noble Prize holds any worth, this year's Noble Prize in medicine ought to disabuse you of that notion.

This year's winner was Robert Edwards of Britain who developed in-vitro fertilization. He was selected over the favored Shinya Yamanaka (story here).

Yamanaka has done some amazing research with great potential. He figured out a way to take fibroblast cells (most abundant cells in your body, a sort of generic connective tissue) and to make them pluripotent (with the ability to become any cell in your body). These cells are referred to as Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS Cells). Not only do they allow for stem cell research without the destruction of an embryo, they also allow for new tissue to be developed which is not seen as foreign by your body (because the tissue can be grown from your own cells). In fact, Yamanaka has grown all sorts of tissue from these cells; even that of beating cardiac tissue. This is a major medical breakthrough and that is why most experts thought Yamanaka was a favorite to win the Nobel prize in medicine.

However, the researcher who developed in vitro fertilization won instead. This is much less medically interesting, and, given the political bend of the Nobel awards, it only makes sense to me if I assume it was purely political. How disappointing.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Nobel Prizes stopped being useful measures of anything when Henry Kissinger got one and actually accepted. No take that back it stopped meaning anything when Theodore Roosevelt got one and accepted.

Though it is worth remembering that a lot of these things are given out for work done years earlier and Yamanaka will probably get it one day.