When a man stood in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, the world gasped at his bravery. No less brave are health- care practitioners like Polish-born Dr Stanislaw R. Burzynski, who successfully stood up to a juggernaut of hostility toward his cancer therapy from both the US government and the medical establishment..
When a man stood in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square, the world gasped at his bravery. No less brave are health-care practitioners like Polish-born Dr Stanislaw R. Burzynski, who successfully stood up to a juggernaut of hostility toward his cancer therapy from both the US government and the medical establishment.
Burzynski's troubles began when his Houston, Texas hospital withdrew permission to continue trials of his amino acid "antineoplastons" therapy until local cancer powerhouses Baylor Cancer Research Center and MD Anderson Cancer Hospital approved of them. When they didn't, Burzynski began to manufacture and give antineoplastons to cancer patients on his own. As more terminally ill cancer patients recovered their health after his treatment, negative attention from the medical establishment and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grew. The FDA tried to stop his activities with lawsuits from 1983 until 1997, raiding his offices in 1985 and removing all patient records, never to be returned. He was finally acquitted of any malpractice.
The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) was at first cooperative, at one time funding his work and until 1991 evaluating it very favourably. However, Burzynski claims that the NCI developed a close relationship with a pharmaceutical company and planned to steal his work. The Institute even obtained several patents in 1996 (licensed to the drug company) which Burzynski claims illegally duplicated his patents. When he fought back, the NCI's opinion of his work dramatically fell. He had to threaten lawsuits again when the Institute started trials using levels of antineoplastons about 50 times lower than needed for positive effects.
Throughout all this, the FDA had continued to grant him permits to investigate antineoplaston therapy. About 600 patients, including a handful of Canadians, are now participating in over 70 clinical trials. But these are limited to those who have "failed" conventional therapy. (People who don't want conventional therapy are forbidden by the FDA to participate in the trials, although Burzynski had found their response generally better because their bodies had not been damaged by toxic chemicals and radiation.)
Although Burzynski is given only the most intractable cases, his success rate is close to miraculous. In hopeless cases of brain stem glioma, his trials have obtained a 60 per cent response rate (shrinkage or elimination of the tumour) and survival rate at least five times higher than conventional therapies. Highly damaging conventional therapies leave only seven per cent of patients alive after two years and virtually none after five. Yet non-toxic antineoplastons allow 40 percent to live for two years and most of these for five. In less aggressive brain cancers, progressive disease has occurred in only 12.5 percent of patients.
After tumours have gone, Burzynski recommends that treatment continue for another eight months. For most people, the cancer will not reoccur. If it does, treatment must be restarted. However, unlike most cancer therapies, restarting antineoplaston therapy will often shrink the cancer back again.
Burzynski doesn't pretend that antineoplastons are a cure for all cancers. They have not yet worked well in the majority of cases of colon, lung and breast cancer.
Hope for the Future
Even after all he has been through, Burzynski is still full of hope and faith in the future. He expects to submit about 200,000 pages of documentation to the FDA in the next year or two and have his drugs approved for use. He believes that within 10 years, the use of chemotherapy and radiation for cancer will be abandoned.
Burzynski is a major economic threat to oncologists and many have reacted with hostility. One example still leaves the parents of Crystin Schiff extremely angry. Her doctors recommended aggressive treatments with chemotherapy and radiation for her brain tumour, leaving her blind and incapacitated. When the parents discovered Burzynski, antineoplastons actually eliminated her tumour but the damage from conventional therapy was so great that she died anyway, free of cancer. The parents' anger was fueled when they found out that at least two other of her doctors' patients had gone to Burzynski and experienced miraculous recoveries.
Burzynski's patients have been stalwart allies, providing money, time and political support. Without them it's certain that he would have been crushed by the system. Their website is at burzynskipatientgroup.org.
The Antineoplaston Therapy
Stanislaw Burzynski's cancer therapy consists of oral or intravenous treatment with human peptides, small chains of amino acids occurring naturally in the blood and urine of healthy people. (Initially extracted from these sources, they are now produced synthetically.) Absence of these peptides, which he called antineoplastons, in the blood of a cancer patient started him thinking that they might have anti-cancer potential.
Burzynski started clinical trials with antineoplastons on cancer patients in the late 1970s. These showed significant anti-tumour effects without significant toxicity and on cancers generally considered resistant to treatment. Unlike chemotherapy drugs, antineoplastons are almost entirely non-toxic. Rashes occur in some patients but are only serious enough to stop treatment in less than one percent of cases.