9. DIRECTOR FAILS TO CREDIT
From The Cancer Chronicles #23
© Sept. 1994 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
This summer, Dr. Samuel Broder, MD, director
of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), co-authored an article in a major
medical journal containing optimistic claims about a new approach to cancer
But the whole story is not told in Dr. Broder's article. For he fails
to mention the fact that in part this new treatment is based on the life
work of an unconventional Houston physician, Stanislaw R. Burzynski, MD,
The article in question appeared June 3 in the Journal of the American
Medical Association (1994; 271:1693-1695). It was co-authored by the NCI
director and his colleague, Judith E. Karp, MD. They reviewed some recent
progress in controlling the expression of so-called ras-oncogenes (growth-regulating
genes) and "ras-encoded proteins" in influencing the outcome of
various human cancer. Ras genes, similar to animal viruses, were first discovered
in human cancers in 1982 (Der CJ et al. PNAS 1982;79:3637). This is widely
considered a major breakthrough in understanding the genetics of cancer.
Ras oncogenes make some of the proteins that are responsible for regulating
the health and appearance of the proteins that are found on the surfaces
of cells. When these genes mutate, and their protein products become abnormal
(become "overexpressed or deranged" is the technical terminology),
they can "serve as critical driving forces in the evolution of many...cancers,"
wrote Drs. Karp and Broder.
By blocking such cell-surface changes, scientists hope to "provide
a powerful molecular target for therapy and prevention of a broad spectrum
of malignant neoplasms." including those of the colon, pancreas, prostate,
bladder, lung, brain, and possibly also breast cancer. A TALE OF THREE AGENTS:
The NCI scientists then cite three new investigational agents that seem
able to help preserve normal cell membrane structures and functions. These
thre eare the common anti-cholesterol drug, lovastatin; limonene (or common
citrus oil, found in lemons, dill, etc.); and something called phenylacetate.
We needn't discuss the first two here. The third, phenylacetate, targets
a particular site on the cell surface, the scientists write, and thereby
inhibits ras-driven cancerous cell growth. In addition, it "could theoretically
exert an antitumor effect, even in the absence of ras abnormality."
It should be noted that of the three agents, only phenylacetate naturally
occurs in the human body; the other two are foreign substances.
"Some of these approaches," Drs. Broder and Karp say, "could
yield new cancer prevention strategies.... These agents are presently in
clinical development for prostate cancer and glioblastoma multiforme"
and "several important clinical studies are under way."
A quick check of the footnotes reveals that some of the work in question
is being done by Dvorit Samid, PhD, herself presently at NCI (J Clin Invest
1993; 91:2288-2295). Dr. Samid is currently involved in the NCI clinical
trial of phenylacetate as a new treatment for brain cancer.
SEPARATING THE MEDICINE FROM THE MAN: This article immediately set off
bells in the alternative community. With the oblique reference to Dr. Samid,
Drs. Karp and Broder reveal the hidden sources of their ideas. For this
work on phenylacetate is derived from the work of the beleaguered Dr. Burzynski.
Yet there is no mention of Burzynski in Broder's account.
The real story is this: In 1988, at the urging of a prominent cancer
activist named Bob DeBragga, Dr. Samid began investigating the work of Dr.
Burzynski, who was one of DeBragga's doctors. Samid was then of the Uniformed
Services University of Health in Bethesda, MD. She began to experiment with
synthetic analogs of the urine-derived antineoplastons, and particularly
with the one called AS2-1.
In Oncology News (7-8/90), she is quoted as saying, "AS2-1 profoundly
inhibits oncogene expression and the proliferation of malignant cells without
exhibiting any toxicity toward normal cells...The Antineoplaston[s] can
actually induce terminal differentiation [i.e., reversing malignancy]....Such
a dramatic phenomenon is seldom seen." Phenylacetate, as she learned
from Dr. Burzynski, is the main ingredient of AS2-1. While her earlier articles
bore no mention of this intellectual debt, in her most recent paper, she
says, she is able to credit Burzynski as a source of her work.
"Basically," Burzynski says, "through the elucidation
of the mechanism of action of ras-oncogenes, my theory of the Biochemical
Defense System has been proven, as far as the first ingredient, phenylacetate,
is concerned. The human body can defend itself against cancerous growth
by using this body substance, phenylacetate, which interferes with the information
processing in ras-oncogene pathways."
Ironically, Burzynski remains under fierce attack by state regulators, especially
the Texas Board of Medical Examiners. Broder could greatly help the situation
by properly acknowledging the parentage of his own ideas. Cancer history
is replete with examples of ideas taken, unacknowledged, from unconventional
scientists. The cases of Beard, Gerson, and Ivy come to mind. We would
hate to think that this article by Drs. Broder and Karp is yet another
`rip off' of an alternative pioneer by the cancer establishment. At NCI,
this process is sometimes euphemistically called "separating the
medicine from the man." Rest assured: the alternative health movement
will never stand for this, and is in a position today to fight so that
simple justice is done.
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