By Les Ogilvie
Following last week’s drama on the threats of erstwhile Burzynski Clinic employee Marc Stephens to the likes of Quackometer and Rhys Morgan, the clinic has issued a press release. The press release can be read in full here, and strongly implies that Marc Stephens has been fired following his bizarre and somewhat sinister correspondence.
The press release goes on to state that there is still interest in stemming what they claim are misrepresentative claims made by bloggers. Helpfully, they actually provide specific details of claims that they believe are unsupported. Something Marc Stephens explicitly refused to do. So that’s a start.
Obviously, the 21st floor does not want to disseminate false information and is in complete agreement with the Burzynski Clinic that they should be represented fairly.
As such, we would like to comment on the specific complaints made in the press release:
1. “Antineoplastons are made from urine. False – Antineoplastons are synthesized from chemicals.”
We completely accept that antineoplastons are no longer made using urine, and that they are manufactured synthetically from commercially available chemicals in Dr Burzynski’s laboratory. Indeed, it had struck us as curious that the natural/alternative/holistic medicine community is so enamoured with the Burzynski Clinic when their treatment involves the invasive administration of large quantities of synthetic chemicals. Keir Liddle discussed this fact in the article “Burzynski: Natural’s Not In It”.
2. “That Dr Burzynski falsely claims to have a PhD. False – In fact Dr Burzynski has a PhD from the Medical Academy of Lublin and a copy of an official affidavit will be put up on the Burzynski Clinic website.”
I don’t believe that we’ve ever claimed that Dr Burzynski has falsely claimed to have a PhD. We have reported that others have expressed the opinion that his claim to a PhD is questionable, which is undoubtedly true. We welcome the move to publish Dr Burzynski’s academic credentials.
3. “There are no scientific studies supporting antineoplaston treatment since 2006. False – below is a list of publications and abstracts providing the results of FDA approved clinical trials since 2006 which demonstrate the treatment’s efficacy on a wide variety of brain tumours.”
1. Burzynski, S.R. Treatments for Astrocytic Tumors in Chiìdren: Current and Emerging Strategies. Pediatric Drugs 2006;8:167-178.
2. Burzynski, S.R., Janicki, T.J., Weaver, RA., Burzynski, B. Targeted therapy with Antineoplastons A10 and of high grade, recurrent, and progressive breínstem gliome. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2006; 5(1):40-47.
3. Burzynski, SR. Recent clinical trials in diffuse intrinsic brainstem glioma. Cancer Therapy 2007;5, 379-390.
4. Burzynski, SR., Weaver, R.A., Janicki, T.J., Jufida, G.F., Szymkowskì, B,G., Kubove, E. Phase Il studies of Antineoplasîons A10 and AS 2-1 (ANP) in chiìdren with newly diagnosed diffuse, intrinsic brainstem gliornas. Neuro-Oncology 2007;9:206.
5. Burzynskì, SR., Weaver, R., Szymkowski, B. A case report of a complete response and 20-year survival of a patient with a recurrent diffuse intrinsic braînstem anaplastic astrooytoma. Neuro~Onco|ogy 2007;9:536.
6. Burzynskí, S., Weaver, R., Janíckì, T., Szymkowskí, B., Walczak, M., Burzynskí, G. Phase ii study of antìneoplastons A10 and infusions (ANP) in patients with recurrent anaplastic astrocytorna. Neuro-Oncology 2008;10:1067.
7. Burzynski, SR., Weaver, R., Janicki, T., Waîczak, M., Szymkowski, B., Samuel, S. Phase Il study of antìneopiastons A10 and A82-1 (ANP) in children with optic pathway gliorna: A preliminary report. NeuroOncoiogy 2008;10:450.
8. Burzynski, S., Weaver, R., Janicki, T., Burzynski, G., Samuel, S., Szymkowski, B. Phase Il study of antineoplastons A10 and AS2-1 (ANP) in patients with newly diagnosed anaplastic astrocytoma: A preliminary report. NeuroOncology 2008; 10:821.
9. Weaver, RA., Szymkowski, B., Burzynski, SR. Over a 10-year survival and compiete response of a patient with diffuse intrinsic brainstem giioma (DBSG) treated with antineoplastons (ANP). Neuro-Oncology 2009;11:923.
10. Burzynski, SR., Janicki, T.J., Weaver, RA., Szymkowskì, B., Burzynskâ, G.S. Phase Il study of antineoplastons A10 and AS2~1 in patients with brainstem glioma: Protocol BC-BT-11. Neuro-Oncology 2009;11:951
11. Ogata, Y., Shirouzu, K., Matono, M., Ushìjima, M., Uchida, S., Tsuda, H. Randomized phase H study of hepatic arterial infusion with or without antíneoplastons as adjuvant therapy after hepatectomy for liver metastases from colorectal cancer. Ann Oncol 2010;21:víiî221
12. Burzynski, SR, Weaver, RA., Janicki, T., E, Szymkowski, B., Aceiar, S.S., Burzynski, G.S. A phase il study of antineopiaston A10 and injections in children with |owgrade astrocytomas. Neuro-Oncology 2010;12(6):ii95.
13. Burzynski, SR, Weaver, RA., Janickì, T.J., Burzynski, G.S., Szymkowskî, B., Aceiar, S.S. OT-15. Preliminary results of a phase Il study of antîneoplastons A10 and AS2-1 (ANP) in adult patients with recurrent mixed gliomas. Neuro~OncoIogy 2010;12(SuppI. 4):iv72.
This is the most interesting of the three claims. It is indeed true that Burzynski keeps a publication list on his website which cites “publications” from as recently as 2010. This fact is not in question. However, none of the relevant publications cited in the press release are peer-reviewed publications of scientific data. This is the bone of contention, and the subject of the petition initiated by Keir liddle: that Burzynski should make available the data from his trials in complete, publically available, peer-reviewed scientific papers in reputable scientific journals.
Of the publications cited above:
Numbers 1 and 2 are from 2006 and so are irrelevant to the complaint (however, number 1 is published in a journal with no impact factor, and number 2 in a journal speciaising in alternative and complementary therapies – make of that what you will).
Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13 are nothing more than conference abstracts. Conference abstracts are not useful scientific publications. They simply summarise a presentation. Abstracts have numerous disadvantages over complete, peer-reviewed, scientific papers. Firstly and most importantly, we cannot examine the complete data and methodology. Secondly, conferences commonly accept preliminary data and there is little quality control; i.e. if you pitch a presentation to a conference, and it sounds interesting, they will commonly offer you a slot. Thirdly, and related to the previous point, there is no peer review prior to publication of the abstract. Peer-review, if it can be said to happen at all, only occurs during the Q+A sessions that take place following a typical presentation. These, obviously, are not a matter of public record.
Number 11 is not even by Burzynski or produced by his clinic. And, in any case, is another conference abstract.
Number 3 is a review article, not a scientific study, and it is published in a very strange online journal, with no apparent impact factor and numerous pages which return 404 errors. It also contains a weird, extraneous, link on its “home” page to a conspiracy theory style YouTube video (see image below – click for bigger).
I am, in all honesty, completely confused by and at a loss to explain the inclusion of this link. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem particularly professional.
So, in light of this, we still believe it is entirely appropriate and necessary to ask: where has the data from Burzynski’s trials been properly published, in a conventional scientific paper, in a peer-reviewed, reputable journal? Therefore, the purpose of the petition still stands.
Whether you believe in Burzynski’s treatment or not, surely it is reasonable to ask for the trial data to be presented through the proper channels?
A master list of sceptical commentary on the Burzynski Clinic is available here.