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 treatment.

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, PhD.

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.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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