Ryan continues to receive antineoplaston treatment, but the dosage is gradually being reduced. He wears a miniature infusion pump, carried in a waist pack, that injects antineoplastons through a catheter in his chest twenty-four hours a day. There is no pain or discomfort. The ambulatory pump, similar to the one used by diabetics, is reloaded with medicine every two to three days. A patient can inconspicuously carry it in a moderately sized shoulder bag or waist pack. Patients can function and walk about with minimum inconvenience.
Ryan's physical growth and metabolism have slowed. At the age of thirteen, he is over three inches shorter than his identical twin brother, which the Werthweins attribute to the radiation therapy. "The thing that attracted us to Dr. Burzynski's approach," explains Sharon, "is that it is safe and nontoxic, without the horrendous damage and pain that chemotherapy and radiation cause. We figured, 'Our boy is dying. What have we got to lose by trying this method?' It is criminal that the American medical system would attempt to suppress Dr. Burzynski's therapy, which has saved our son's life. It is wrong that we can only get this treatment for our son in Texas, rather than right here where we live."
Dr. Burzynski reports that he continues to see very encouraging results in the majority of his patients with advanced, high-grade malignant brain tumors.
Some of Dr. Burzynski's patients receive the antineoplastons orally, through capsules. For others, the treatment is administered intravenously, through a catheter. The insertion of a catheter is a simple procedure, performed by a qualified medical doctor outside the clinic.
Another of Dr. Burzynski's patients was a thirty-six-year-old female diagnosed by the University of California Medical Center with advanced (Stage IV) astrocytoma of the brain stem. The patient was initially treated with radiation therapy but showed clear, debilitating progression of the disease before starting on an antineoplaston protocol. She was given oral doses of Antineoplaston A10 (one of the specific peptide compounds) as well as intravenous injections of Antineoplaston AS2-1. She did not show objective response to the treatment, however, and was switched to Antineoplaston A10 and AS2-1 infusions. After six months on this regimen, she was documented to be in complete remission, and she continues to be cancer free three years later.3
There's a telling irony in the saga of a scientist fleeing Poland for the United States in search of freedom to do his work, only to encounter harassment and repression by the government and medical establishment. At age twenty-five, Stanislaw Burzynski graduated from the prestigious Lublin Medical Academy in Poland, ranked first in his class of 250. The next year, in 1968, he received a Ph.D. in biochemistry, becoming one of the youngest people in Europe ever to receive both advanced degrees. It was in 1967, at age twenty-four, that Burzynski discovered the cancer-growth-inhibiting properties of peptides.
When Burzynski refused to join the communist party in Poland, his position became precarious. He emigrated to the United States in 1970, becoming an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. A research grant from the National Cancer Institute allowed him to continue his investigation of peptides part-time.
Over the next few years, Burzynski isolated 119 peptides and classified them according to activity. He elaborated on his original finding that "messenger" peptides bond to potential cancer cells, feeding them the complex information they need to revert to normal and perform their intended function. Without this corrective biochemical defense system, asserts Burzynski, we would soon succumb to the cancer-causing forces that continually trigger abnormal cell development, such as carcinogenic chemicals, radiation, and viruses.
Burzynski's work on peptides convinced him that cancer is "a disease of information processing." Some peptides spur cellular growth, others inhibit it, but they all accomplish their mission by sending messages the body can obey. The peptides in the bloodstream, which he named antineoplastons, are said to correct the DNA's chemical program inside the cell and force the cell toward normal development.
Dr. Burzynski discovered that antineoplastons exhibit three di~stinct modes of action. In the first mode, the antineoplastons inhibit the incorporation of glutamine (an amino acid) into the protein of cancerous cells. In the second mode of action, the antineoplastons intercalate (insert) themselves into the double-helix strand of DNA.
Since carcinogens also do this, the antineoplastons are believed to work because they pre-emptively take up the carcinogen's "parking spot" on the DNA strand. This mechanism is not new; some conventional anticancer drugs act in precisely this manner, but they also bind with normal cells and are highly toxic. In the third mode of action, the antineoplastons inhibit methylation (introduction of a methyl group) in the DNA and RNA of cancer cells, thus inducing malignant cells to differentiate and enter a normal cell cycle.4
At first, Burzynski derived the antineoplaston compounds from blood serum. Then he discovered that the body eliminates these peptides in the urine. Today, most antineoplastons are synthesized from off-the-shelf chemicals, but some of them are still derived from purified human urine. Critics have twisted these facts to paint Burzynski's therapy as bizarre. In reality, the investigation of urinary peptides and amino acids in human urine has been pursued by researchers for over half a century. As Dr. Burzynski observed, "Urine is not really waste material, but probably the most complex chemical mixture in the human body, and therefore it can deliver us virtually any information about the body. So from the cybernetic point of view it is just a treasure of information. Blood is not such a complex mixture. It contains fewer chemicals."5 Far from being bizarre, Burzynski's method of isolating antineoplastons falls squarely within mainstream science.
Antineoplastons, being species-specific, are not generally effective in experiments on laboratory animals. Because of this, Dr. Burzynski received permission to do clinical trials on cancer patients at Houston's Twelve Oaks Hospital. The results were extremely impressive, with the antineoplastons having a pronounced effect on cancers unresponsive to chemotherapy and radiation. But, just as the doctor was proving the efficacy of antineoplastons on human patients, the hospital withdrew its permission for him to do further tests, the National Cancer Institute got cold feet and cancelled his funding, and the American Cancer Society refused him research money.
So, with entrepreneurial spirit, an undaunted Dr. Burzynski quit his job at Baylor University in 1977 and struck out on his own, establishing his own laboratory so that he could manufacture antineoplastons and treat patients himself. His only savings was $5,000, and he was forced to turn to bank loans to keep the operation alive. Today, the Burzynski Research Institute has three facilities in Houston, including a large pharmaceutical plant, and employs a staff of doctors, engineers, and lab technicians.
In 1983, Burzynski submitted an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application, which took the foot-dragging FDA six years to approve. As a result of the approval, the doctor is currently seeking funding to do a Phase II trial on the effects of Antineoplaston A10 on patients with advanced breast cancer, to be conducted at an institute independent of his clinic.
Perhaps the most important preclinical study on antineoplastons, according to Dr. Burzynski, was done by the pathology department of the United States Department of Defense in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1989. Researchers there demonstrated that using Antineoplaston AS2-1 in tissue culture changes cancer cells into normal cells after approximately two to three days. These "corrected" cells behave completely like normal cells until they die, unless the medicine is removed from the culture medium too soon.6
"This means that when we are treating a patient who has cancer . . . we have to maintain a certain consistent concentration of antineoplastons in their body, in their blood," comments Dr. Burzynski. "If we slow down too soon, then we have to start from scratch, because the cell will begin to multiply again and simply go toward the cancerous way of life."
Antineoplastons appear to be remarkably effective in the early diagnosis and prevention of cancer. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta demonstrated that Antineoplaston A10 significantly delayed the appearance of inborn tumors in mice.7 Low doses of synthetic Antineoplaston A10 administered orally can prevent lung, breast, and liver cancer in animals, according to research carried out at the University of Kurume Medical School in Japan and the Burzynski Research Institute. Antineoplastons show great promise as part of a preventive program against cancer in humans. Seemingly healthy individuals who have low levels of antineoplastons, such as smokers, would be prime candidates for that type of program. The possibilities of Burzynski's "new medicine" appear endless since, in addition to cancer, errors in cell programming can lead to such diverse disorders as benign tumors, certain skin diseases, AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), genital warts, and Parkinson's disease.
All patients at the Burzynski Clinic are treated on an outpatient basis. The initial patient response to treatment can be evaluated by standard medical tests, usually within the first three to six weeks of care. While patients receive treatment, clinical evaluations are made, including tumor measurements, radiologic studies, and a total laboratory profile. Most patients show virtually no side effects; a small percentage experience just minor adverse reactions such as skin rashes, slightly changed blood pressure, chills, or fever. In contrast to toxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy, antineoplaston therapy can actually create beneficial side effects, including increases in white- and red-bloodcell counts and decreases in blood cholesterol.
According to the clinic, the treatment does not interfere with surgery, radiation, nor various forms of conventional chemotherapy or immunotherapy. In fact, for some types of cancer, antineoplastons are used together with a small dose of chemotherapy. Such combination treatments are usually free of chemo's adverse reactions because the dose of chemotherapy given is very small. In addition, the depression of bone marrow that occurs under chemotherapy is offset by the antineoplastons, which actually stimulate bone-marrow function.
In addition to the successes against brain tumors, the clinic reports its most favorable results are obtained against lymphomas, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; prostate cancer; certain forms of breast cancer; and bladder cancer. The clinic claims an objective response in treating advanced cancer of the pancreas, with two patients in remission for three years. Certain types of cancer do not respond well to antineoplaston therapy. For instance, the clinic does not accept patients with childhood leukemia or testicular cancer.
A small number of AIDS patients have been treated at the Burzynski Clinic. Most of them reportedly had marked improvement in their white-blood-cell counts, with their T4 cells (the white blood cells particularly affected by AIDS) increasing after the first four weeks of treatment. Most AIDS patients take Antineoplaston AS2-1 orally, in capsule form. According to Dr. Burzynski, "Antineoplaston AS2-1 will block the 'AIDS program' which is in the DNA of the cell. The cell will undergo specialization and function normally. The virus will not be able to multiply in a cell which is not dividing, and when the cell dies, the virus will die also. Hopefully, this will be the main benefit for the patient."
While scientists in countries such as Japan, Poland, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (formerly the Soviet Union) actively pursue antineoplaston research, the American medical establishment has been dragging its heels. At the time of this writing, the National Cancer Institute finally agreed to conduct four independent Phase II trials of antineoplaston therapy on patients with brain tumors.