The fulfillment of this promise is years away, however.
CIENTISTS convening at a seminar on recent medical breakthroughs have voted unanimously in favor of an initiative to delay news conferences "until our advances are completely ready to be utilized for the public's benefit."
The initiative is in response to complaints by patients who say that whenever a new breakthrough is announced, the news is inevitably followed by a caveat that the advance will not be of any use to the public for many years to come.
"We realized that we were kind of jerking our patients around," admitted Dr. Doris Pritchard, who is working on "some very promising cancer research that could start saving lives in about 2040. Oh, sorry, hard habit to break."
However, with many advances already in the news-conference pipeline for the foreseeable future, doctors warn that postponing announcements of scientific breakthroughs "may not be a reality for at least a decade, if not longer."
Patients and other consumers of medical information are asked to "disregard any medical-breakthrough news conferences for the next ten years, or until we tell you it's safe to get your hopes up, whichever comes first."
Among the breakthroughs scientists are currently excited about but which should not even be contemplated by the general public, unless the general public wishes to have its hopes cruelly dashed, are:
- Genital herpes successfully prevented by vaccine in a petrie dish and a lobster;
- Breast cancer treatments that left healthy tissue completely uninjured in the mammaries of peri-menopausal hedge hogs from the Isle of Wight;
- Prostate screening that correctly detected pre-cancerous lesions in 80% of test subjects who are currently goats; and
- Nano technology that successfully targeted only diseased cells in cute little bunnies whom no one had the heart to inject with any worse disease than mild bunny acne.
"All that and more you should completely not pay any attention to," said Dr. Pritchard. "We're talking years before it's worth your trouble."
© 3.26.10 Kate Heidel