Robert Lanza has been single-minded in his quest to usher in the new age which has paid dividends in scientific insights and groundbreaking discoveries. Years ago, he was called a murderer for tampering with embryos. Personal threats were so common then that he believed that he would be killed. Today, as a force in the field of regenerative medicine, he is close to delivering cellular therapies that might reseed the immune system, heal damaged hearts, and even save limbs from amputation.
Dr. Robert Lanza now leads the charge into medicine’s most controversial turf, the creation of cloned embryos for therapy and the engineering of human parts. The value of therapeutic cloning has been imprinted on his mind ever since his early work with South African heart transplant pioneer, Christiaan Barnard. With an endless supply of stem cells imprinted with the owner’s personal DNA, rejection from transplant can now be avoided. With the aid of Kwang-Soo Kim of Harvard University, they had developed a safe method for generating induced pluripotent iPS stem cells. These were created from skin cells by direct delivery of proteins, therefore eliminating the harmful risks associated with genetic manipulation. The new method provides a safe and non-controversial source of patient-specific stem cells for translation into the clinic. Because of this, their paper on protein programming was highlighted as one of the five “Research Highlights” of 2009. Not bad for someone who has endured 20 years of government policy that has kept his innovations on ice.