Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and his son, Dr. Gregory Burzynski, employ novel gene-target therapies in the treatment of cancer, which is the leading cause of death in the US.
Born in the early 1940's in Poland, Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski was trained as a biochemist and a physician, and has been developing a treatment called antineoplastons over the past 35 years. He's also the Founder, President and Chairman of the Burzynski Institute, located in both Houston, Texas, and Stafford.
Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski is known for developing a gene-specific treatment using a combination of antineoplastons he developed to target specific cancers, conventional cancer drugs, and natural complementary strategies, including customized diets and exercise.
Interestingly for the last few years he has also been doing a test which sequences all his cancer patients genes so he knows how to customize the program for their genetics.
Proving this Therapy Works
Twelve phase 2 clinical trials have been successfully completed under the supervision of the FDA, and they are now conducting three phase 3 clinical trials. Six additional phase 3 trials are also being planned.Interestingly, they’re not receiving any funding for these studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or any other organization.
“Currently, our efforts are directed to treat patients with malignant brain tumors especially children and also patients who have advanced colon cancer which could spread to the liver. This is in the area of clinical trials.
As far as our medical oncology practice is concerned, we treat all kinds of cancers especially patients who have the disease advanced to the point that they were told that there is nothing that can be done. That’s the typical patient who is coming to us, the patient with very advanced cancer who has tried other types of treatment and who are simply told to go to the hospital because there is nothing else that can be done.”
“We are running this completely from our own resources,” Dr. Burzynski says. “It is very expensive… That’s why it’s so difficult… But that’s what we have to do.
Basically, the FDA permits us to use antineoplastons for patients who are not in clinical trials, but then we have to ask the FDA for such permission. Of course, the good news about it is that one medication from antineoplaston group is already approved as a prescription medication. This one we can use in combination with other medication as we feel is necessary.”
The Coming Paradigm Shift in Cancer Treatment
According to Dr. Burzynski, the entire medical world is facing a major paradigm shift when it comes to the treatment of cancer.
"For approximately a century and a half, the treatment of cancer was based on a pathology diagnosis established under optic microscope," Dr. Burzynski says. "The doctors simply would like to know the name of the cancer... And every patient who had such cancer received the same standard of care and treatment.
Now we know that cancer is caused by a combination of genes. There is not just one type of lung cancer but perhaps hundreds or thousands different types of lung cancer, each one with different genomic structure.
Now, what we are facing is a paradigm shift, from the treatment of cancer type established by pathology diagnosis under optic microscope to the treatment of genes that are causing cancer. It's a completely different approach. That's what we are using now."
His strategy includes studying the patient's entire cancerous genome; analyzing some 24,000 genes in each cancer patient, in order to identify the abnormal genes. Once identified, medications and complementary strategies such as diet and supplements are selected to treat these corrupted genes. (This genetic testing, although new, is fully covered by any insurance carrier, including Medicare.)
"A person's genome consists of about 24,000 genes. But the number of abnormal genes in the different cancers differs. For instance, 100 abnormal genes can average lung cancer. It could be close to 600 genes in a malignant brain tumor like GBM (Glioblastoma Multiforme).
But these abnormal genes "hijack" normal genes, forming a malignant network that is typically composed of close to 3000 genes. Unless you destroy this malignant network, you are not going to win with cancer. That's what we are trying to do."
Using Molecular Analysis to Determine the Best Treatment Course
Once they've determined which genes are involved in the cancer, drugs and supplements are identified to target those genes. Antineoplastons work on approximately 100 cancer-causing genes, but traditional oncology agents (including chemotherapy) are also used, typically in combination with antineoplastons.
Dr. Gregory Burzinski explains:
"For example, when we do this molecular analysis we have a good amount of options. We can use supplements. We can use targeted therapies. We can even use some chemotherapy. It's great when we even have a target such as vitamin D3 that can be used as a cancer therapy… It's not just simply using the first line chemotherapy—you can really expand on this and use the supplements that we have in our armory already, and this can be proven by what is shown on the molecular analysis."
This can be important, as some supplements—although generally accepted as beneficial—can make some cancers worse. Here, genetic analysis is used to customize every aspect of the treatment. This customization also includes your diet, because as Dr. Burzynski says, "diet is after all a combination of chemicals," meaning nutrients.
What are Antineoplastons?
Antineoplastons are peptides and derivatives of amino acids that act as molecular switches. However, as genome research blossomed and science progressed, Dr. Burzynski discovered that antineoplastons also work as genetic switches.
"They turn off the genes that cause cancer," he explains. "This means oncogenes. And they turn on or activate the genes that fight cancer, which are chemo suppressor genes.
Basically, we are using molecular switches that work on approximately 100 genes involved in cancer. Approximately 80 percent of these genes, which we are turning off, are oncogenes but about 20 percent, which we are turning on, are chemo suppressors. Gene p53, for instance, when it's activated it can kill cancer cells.
For some patients whom we treat, that's enough.
If we use medications like antineoplastons… we can get rid of every one of the cancer cells and they will never come back. We have patients who are now surviving over 20 years with incurable cancers and are perfectly free from cancer.
They live normal lives."
Twelve different antineoplastons are currently known, of which five have gone through clinical trials. The antineoplastons were initially obtained from blood. For a time they were then extracted from urine, but they've now been using synthetic antineoplastons since 1980.
Vitamin D for Cancer
According to Dr. Burzynski, there's definitive genetic support for the use of vitamin D in the treatment of cancer.
"Vitamin D has very little efficacy, but if you combine it with the other medications you can have substantial results, especially for patients who have silencing or who have turning off the activity of the gene called TXNIP (Thioredoxin Interacting Protein). This is an important tumor suppressor gene that works together with another tumor suppressor gene called p10 or PTN.
We can determine by running genomic analysis if this particular patient may benefit from vitamin D3. If that's the case, certainly we would like to use it. All of this can be determined logically through genetic analysis."
This supports the conclusion of other experts, who suggest that vitamin D is most effective when used proactively and preventatively. Research has shown that by optimizing your vitamin D levels year-round, you significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer in the first place.
"Absolutely," Dr. Burzynski says. "This is a great idea. In the future, we may be able to determine based on genomic analysis of cells isolated from the blood stream what the exact vitamin D requirement is for each patient.
Of course, now we can go along by determining the concentrations of vitamin D in the blood and this can give you some idea. Certainly, it's a very good preventive agent to be used but also we can use this therapeutically in combination with the other agents when we have proper genomic analysis."
Curcumin: A Potent Cancer Fighter
Another important supplement is curcumin, which effectively addresses inflammation and has potent anti-cancer properties.
Dr. Burzynski agrees on this point as well.
"For instance, it [curcumin] inhibits NF-kappa B gene in the brain… which protects the brain from inflammation. It works on a wide array of the genes. It suppresses oncogenes. It also promotes some chemosuppressor genes.
We use curcumin for a majority of our patients in supplements, but curcumin alone is poorly absorbed. Only about 1/20 part of curcumin is normally absorbed from your GI tract. We avoid that by combining curcumin with another alkaloid called piperine."
Interestingly, there are very few medications in existence that work on the NF-kappa B oncogene—which is also why pharmaceutical companies are currently working on a synthetic version of curcumin, for use in cancer drugs.
This is unfortunate, as whatever they come up with will be vastly inferior, cost far more than natural curcumin extracted from turmeric, and be loaded with side effects, as most synthetic drugs are.
"If done well, it may become another chemotherapy agent," Dr. Burzynski says. "But as you know, many chemotherapy drugs initially were based on materials isolated from plants, and when they were modified they become quite toxic."
Nutritional Typing—21st Century Style
As mentioned earlier, the Burzynski team also uses individualized meal plans in their treatment.
Each patient consults with a qualified nutritional expert, and the diet is customized to the patient based on the genomic analysis. In addition, they also use SNPs analysis, or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms analysis, which determines how various nutrients and medications are metabolized in your body.
"Nutrition is very important," Dr. Burzynski says. "One of the things, as we are alluding to with curcumin, is to control inflammation. That's one of things you must do before you get cancer, and also when you have cancer.
Keeping your body with the proper nutrients is essential. We don't want to "feed the cancer." Things that promote cancer, we try to eliminate. We try to eliminate a lot of sugar. That for the most part will fuel the cancer growth.
We want to eliminate glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid. It's great if you want to be a bodybuilder or if you don't have cancer, but if you do have cancer, for the most part, we encourage our patients to stay away from glutamine because that unfortunately is going to be one of the essential ingredients to cancer growth."
… Certainly, the diet depends on the context of the medications we are using for the patient. Certain dietary ingredients are going to support the medications which we prescribe. Some others may neutralize it.
We have to take under consideration which medication we prescribe. And then make sure that the patient is not taking supplements or dietary ingredients that can fight these medications. This is also established for every patient."
Impressive Success Rates
Dr. Burzynski currently has statistics for about 40 different types of cancer, covering close to 2,000 patients. Their oncology practice has an average of 50 to 60 percent success rate for either substantial decrease of the tumor sites or complete remission.
"But you have to understand that these are relatively recent medications. Many of these medications were introduced only about a year ago. For this group of patients, it's too premature to have long term survival data because the medications are brand new.
On the other hand, if you are talking about the treatment with antineoplastons, for every clinical trial we have separate statistics. The best results were obtained in the treatment of astrocytoma. In clinical trials for astrocytoma… 67 percent of patients obtained objective response, which means the tumors disappeared completely, which is called complete response. (More than 50 percent decrease of tumor size is a partial response.)
The rest of the patients had stabilization of the disease. In this particular clinical trial, we did not have any patient who had progressive disease. Zero progressive disease for this particular trial."
To put this into perspective, some of the best combination treatments you will currently find for the treatment of astrocytoma have a success rate of approximately 30-40 percent, and a progressive disease rate of about 40 percent, according to Dr. Burzynski.
Other Complementary Treatment Strategies
Two other components considered to be very important in alternative medicine in the treatment of cancer are exercise and the mind-body-spirit-stress connection.
Dr. Burzynski agrees that exercise is very important, and that your mind is indeed a powerful factor when addressing disease. In their practice, they use neurolinguistic programming to help their patients relax, and to promote a stress-free experience in their office.
"A lot of times people don't have that stress free environment. This helps all their cells get better and with that, their stress is relieved and their blood pressure improves.
… And, as you mentioned exercise is huge. Patients should not be in bed. We need to get them moving. Studies have shown that exercise helps cancer patients across the board."
On Harassment and Ignorance by the Conventional Medicine Community
By now many of you are probably thinking that since Dr. Burzynski is using genetics, the medical community must laud and support their efforts. Unfortunately, that's not necessarily so.
Back in the 1990's, the state of Texas tried to take away his medical license, claiming he was a fraud.
"This was based on complete lack of understanding and scientific ignorance," Dr. Burzynski explains. "Obviously, the people who were persecuting us, most of them did not know what they were doing, but some of them knew very well because they were trying to steal my patents and my invention.
There was a combination of factors. You mentioned State authorities; this was one level of harassment. Another level of harassment was from the Federal government, represented by the FDA. Apparently… it was triggered by a pharmaceutical company, which together with the National Cancer Institute was trying to appropriate our patent. It was very convenient to persecute me and try to put me in prison.
However, they were not successful, we won.
It was extremely difficult to practice under such circumstances, but the clinic was open every day… It was very tough. I remember waking up early in the morning, coming to the clinic at 5 or 6 in the morning, seeing patients then going to court at 8 o'clock, spending the entire day in court until 5 pm, then coming back to the clinic, seeing patients, taking care of medical records well after midnight. This was day after day. It was an extremely difficult situation but we went through it, and we won.
At this moment, we have very good cooperation with FDA. We are working together and hopefully we will have successful phase 3 clinical trials."
Amazingly, this legal fight dragged on for 14 years! It's hard to imagine anyone making it through such an ordeal. Most people don't. As for the cost, Dr. Burzynski describes it as "tremendous." After factoring in the actual legal expenses and the lost revenue, the tally comes to about $3 million.
In addition, the FDA and Federal government allegedly spent about $60 million on the litigation alone—just to appropriate his patents for a pharmaceutical company! The pharmaceutical company in question eventually went bankrupt after Dr. Burzynski won the case. According to Dr. Burzynski, the full story will be detailed in an upcoming documentary.
His challenges certainly serve as a sobering illustration of the kind of courage required to really make advances in this area. In essence, anyone with the guts to try will usually have to pay a steep price for stepping on the toes of drug companies and threatening their future bottom line.
Much of the resistance against alternative and complementary cancer strategies such as the protocol developed by Dr. Burzynski really flies in the face of common sense. Conventional medicine purports to be beholden to science-based medicine, yet it resists and denies solid science-based evidence again and again.
Still, pioneers such as Dr. Burzynski and his son keep moving forward; laying the groundwork for the inevitable paradigm shift.
"To sum it up, I think the 21st century is going to be known for personalized medicine and also preventing certain diseases in that sense," Dr. Burzynski says. "I hope with all the tools we have, we'll get really great results."