By Keir Liddle
Today Eric Merola, director of The Burzynski: cancer is serious business movie, sent out an email to his mailing list subscribers announcing the release date of the sequel to his
long form advert documentary: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II. Dubbed “Burzynski: This time it’s peer reviewed” by skeptics and critics of the clinic. The email summarises some of the films main features.
So what can fans of Merolas film making and the Burzynski clinic look forward to?
Firstly there is an update on the the current status of Antineoplastons’ clinical testing which the email states is “sanctioned by the United States Food & Drug Administration” but forgets to mention the legal wrangling that made that so. I don’t know if it’s just me but does anyone else think a movie is an odd way for a scientist or medical researcher to inform the scientific community and patients about developments in their research? Wouldn’t, I don’t know, a publication in a peer reviewed journal be a better idea? Oh well Burzynski has always been anything but “conventional” when it comes to things like research ethics, transparency and publication.
As an aside the Burzynski supporters cognitive dissonance strikes again in this email. First the FDA have sanctioned clinical trials of ANP but later on they are placing “slow-moving, bureaucratic obstacles” in Burzynskis way and preventing him from helping more patients. I can never understand whether the FDA are supposed to be the good guys or bad guys in this and neither is seems can Burzynski’s supporters.
Secondly the email states that the film will follow the journeys of patients to the Burzynski clinic making the rather grand claim that:
For most patients undergoing Burzynski’s treatment, their advanced cancer itself runs secondary to the constant barrage of skepticism coming not only from their local oncologists, but also from friends and family who feel their loved ones are making suspect treatment decisions -—even though mainstream oncology has already left many for dead.
So there we have it folks: Skepticism it’s worse than cancer (apparently).
Unlike the first documentary, Part II promises to “showcase interviews with board-certified oncologists, surgeons and neurosurgeons, who witnessed patients leave their care, soon to return in great health after opting for the Burzynski Clinic.” Which for me will be the most interesting part. Which surgeons and neurosurgeons will speak up for Burzynski, will they have any links to the clinic and will they be asked about Burzynski’s complete failure to publish?
Though, giving way to cynicism for a moment, one doubts if they were asked and doubts even more that their answers would be included by Merola even if they were. Such is his “unique” approach to documentary film making.
The email then goes on to make a very interesting claim: The the Cancer Genome has been mapped and that Doctor B. has used this to develop his own “Personalized Gene-Targeted Cancer Therapy”. Now we know Burzynski’s approach appears to be gene targeted in the same way carpet bombing is a precision targeted missle strike and indeed what he actually means when he says “Personalised Gene therapy” is “bombard with conventional chemotherapy but what of this idea that cancers genome has been sequenced?
Well there does exist, at the Sanger institute, a Wellcome trust funded project that is looking into the genetics of cancer, it is even called the Cancer Genome project, but at what stage in their research are they? Can they be used to substantiate Merolas claim that the cancer genome has been sequenced?
Well no. We fear there has been a great misunderstanding on Merola’s part as to what cancer actually is. It isn’t a monolithic disease entity it is a random mutation within human cells and as such has no “genome” as Merola appears to understand it. What the Cancer Genome project have actually done is taken a census of genes from the Human Genome for which mutations have been causally implicated in cancer. Or in lay speak they have made a list of common mutations that cause cancer. Cancer doesn’t have a genome. To gain an inkling of just how baffling complex cancer is and why developing new treatments is difficult, difficult lemon difficult you could do worse than read this piece here.
The emails final point, and presumably the films “killer blow” against critics and Skeptics of Burzynski, is that Kurume University in Fukuoka, Japan have been conducting independent studies of Antineoplasteons for over 27 years. The film promises that we will:
“Learn how this team of Japanese pathologists, oncologists and surgeons have studied these anti-cancer compounds using their own methodologies— resulting in the first ever independently-run randomized controlled clinical trials.”
If true this would be something of a coup for Merola but when we look into this claim what do we find?
Well here is the English language version of the Kurume University website and here is their research institutes page and here is their Innovative Cancer Therapy page. Note the overwhelming lack of any mention thus far of antineoplasteons or one Stanislaw Burzynski. Though if you dig a little deeper into the internet you will find that the Doctor quoted in the email, one Hideaki Tsuda, has indeed conducted research into antineoplasteons and the results of his research are indeed indexed on PubMed.
There is this paper detailing In Vitro studies on ANP A10, there is this study on AS2-1 featuring rats, then there is this study reporting a single case study, this study reviewing some cell work and another brief mention of a case study (which also features a tantalising mention of a phase 1 trial) and finally on pubmed there is this study that reports on a clinical trial of ANP. Yes you read that correctly. It reports on a clinical trial of ANP it’s conclusions based on seven patients were as follows:
Two patients in stage I showed longer recurrence-free intervals than those in more advanced stages. In conclusion, antineoplaston AS2-1 could not prevent recurrence of HCC but prolonged the recurrence-free interval between regional treatments and improved survival rate of these patients.
Those would seem to, initially at least, be some promising results. But mitigated by the small sample size and the fact it is looking at a different cancer from the one Burzynski purports to treat.
I have searched for any further reports or publications of clinical trials or registered clinical trials on ANP using the three Japanese clincal trial registers and found nothing. On UMIN there are no results. On Clincialtrials.jp there are no results. On the JMACCT clinical trial registry there are no results. I was about to give up then I tried searching the Kurume Medical Journal and seemingly struck gold. Details of a phase 1 trial into the toxicology of ANP published in 1996, another small study involving 9 case studies and a study on rats.
These I feel are deserving of their own post but I present the links here for anyone who want’s to have a look at them and perform their own analysis. We’ve been looking for published data on ANP and here at last is some small semblance of it’s existence.
If anyone has a copy of this publication I would very much like to seem them so I can evaluate it for myself.
I’ll end this post with the quote that Merola use to finishes the email:
“I can’t imagine a world where other people will not have the privilege that I have had—
the privilege to have their life saved by a new technology that can cure cancer—it’s terrifying.”
If the above publications, the work of Hideaki Tsuda, vindicates ANP by showing they have some degree of efficacy they do not vindicate Burzynski for his incompetence in research, his obfuscation of his results and his abject failure to publish.
As I have said countless times if ANP work the only person denying the world this “new technology” is Burzynski himself.
Burzynski the movie will ship on March 5th.