R&D 100 Awards Honor Year's Most Technologically Significant New Products
The technological relevance of his work is being compared to the fax machine, the digital wristwatch, the automated teller machine, antilock brakes, the halogen lamp and Polacolor film.
These products are past winners of the R&D 100 Award, an international competition sponsored by "R&D Magazine" that honors the year's top 100 technologically significant new products.
This year, such recognition also will go to a gene-transfer system invented by Dusty Miller, Ph.D, a gene-therapy researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. He will receive the award -- dubbed "the Nobel Prize of applied research" and "the Oscars of invention" -- on Thursday, Sept. 24 at a black-tie banquet at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry. Also on hand to accept the award will be research scientists from Clontech Laboratories Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., the biotechnology firm that in 1997 licensed the patented technology from the Hutchinson Center and converted it into a marketable product.
Miller's winning technology, marketed as the Retro-X System, is a retroviral gene-transfer kit used by gene-therapy researchers at academic medical centers and biotechnology firms worldwide. It is used to introduce genetic material into cell culture and animals, specifically mammals, reptiles and birds.
In gene therapy experiments, researchers typically use viruses as vectors, or vehicles, to infect genetically defective cells with therapeutic packages of corrected DNA. The goal is to get the implanted DNA to express, or function, normally and thus cure or reverse disease.
The type of vector, or gene delivery vehicle, used in the Retro-X System is the retrovirus. Probably the most well-known type of retrovirus is the lethally efficient human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, which causes AIDS, obviously a potent viral messenger.