April 15, 2009
Al Gore has thrown his considerable weight (and his support, too) behind ethically-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells.) Gore is part of a $20 million venture capital investment to develop iPS cells for drug development and basic research. The funding will support collaboration between iZumi Bio, Inc., and Kyoto University's Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, who was the first in 2006 to develop the iPS cell reprogramming technique; the technique was named "Breakthrough of the Year" by Science for 2008. While iPS cells are virtually identical in characteristics to embryonic stem cells, they are made without the use of embryos, eggs, or cloning. Gore's support for iPS cells is a welcome counterweight of priority for real stem cell science against the over-exaggerated hype for embryonic stem cells and cloning.