Dr Stanislaw Burzynski


The following interview was conducted in Sept., 1986, and January, 1987, and was first published in the Townsend Letter for Doctors, June 1989. Reprinted with permission from the author.


Stanislaw R. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D., is an internist and biochemist who has spent the past twenty years developing a nontoxic, and thus, by definition, unorthodox cancer treatment based on certain peptides and amino acid derivatives present in the healthy human body that have demonstrated both cancer-preventive and cancer-corrective properties. These substances constitute a non-immunological surveillance mechanism against cancer. Dr. Burzynski has named them "antineoplastons" (neoplasm being a term for tumor), and has used them successfully in the treatment of advanced cancer patients since 1977.

Outside the U.S., Stan Burzynski's work has been welcomed and recognized through the same basic peer-review channels in the cancer/pharmacology/medical communities that hold sway in all other communities of scholarship and research: plenty of publications, invitations, and papers delivered at conferences. He holds patents on antineoplastons in numerous countries. Independent clinical investigations and/or verification and extension of his research findings is proceeding apace in Japan, Germany, China, England, and Italy. Inside the U.S., many score (and many terminal) patients treated with antineoplastons have continued living years after they were told by all their previous doctors that there was nothing more that could be done to help them.

Yet, despite five U.S. patents granted Dr. Burzynski, the official reception given him by our country's healthcare industry is about the same as that given most other serious medical innovators working independent of the mega-institutions: scornful, ill-informed, and malicious. He has been incessantly hounded and seen his work characterized as unsubstantiated quackery by such interlocking government agencies and private-sector interest groups as the Food and Drug Administration and the American Cancer Society. Other oncologists have unblinkingly informed patients of Dr. Burzynski's that he has published nothing. Insurance companies have sent pleasantly worded form letters denying all payment for his services while at the same time assuring policy-holders of the company's concerned readiness to be of assistance.

The irony of a scientist fleeing Poland for the United States in search of freedom to do his work, only to encounter government repression, human rights violations, capitalist greed, and an old boys' medical oligarchy might merely be the makings of an agit-prop soap opera if it weren't for the unremitting yearly increases in cancer incidence and age-adjusted mortality rates in America. And that means real people, real lives, someone we know and love and want to have around, someone dying when quite possibly their death is avoidable.

I've interviewed Dr. B because he has saved a particular life I care a lot about; that of Ron Wolin, my companion, and because in the four years that the three of us have been collaborating on Rows health, the doctor has taught me how interesting science can be.


AL: Most people in this country who are not in the sciences don't think about science except for computers. They have an idea that there's something called "progress," they believe in "discoveries," and they assume that when a "discovery" is made, the world around them changes and the scientific or medical community rushes to embrace this change.
By contrast, from Thomas Kuhn's book on the process and history of change in science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, one gets a picture of official "normal" science, of entrenchment of ideas, and of how a paradigm changes. I'd like to start off by asking you to talk about your overview and your own experience of resistance to change in the real medical world, in the real scientific world.

SB: I think changes occur according to what Kuhn described in his book. In my case, I was enjoying peace and tranquility as far as my research project was concerned as long as the medical establishment did not fully realize what I discovered. Most medical breakthroughs have happened because there was some lack of suppression by the supervisors of people doing some innovative work. For instance, the introduction of insulin happened after experiments were performed by Dr. Banting in the absence of the head of his laboratory. He went for a vacation to Europe, and this allowed Dr. Banting to have some freedom to do the experiments. When he came back, the experiment was done.
AL: You're actually saying that the best you can hope for is absence of suppression, that even to consider active support is out of the question.

SB: That they leave you alone-this is the best you can hope for, yes. Louis Pasteur's discovery was suppressed for about twenty-two years, and the reason why it was finally accepted was because Louis Pasteur was allowed to do a final experiment to indicate the effectiveness of his vaccinations. The experiment was constructed in a way that his adversaries thought would never succeed, and they set it up this way to prove that the discovery was not working. But they made an error. They allowed a certain degree of freedom. They allowed him to do the experiment, hoping that it would fail-but it succeeded.

In modern times, after the discovery of America, most inventors in the field of medicine were liquidated before their invention was accepted. Previously the dissemination of information about a new way to treat a disease was very slow. It came to other doctors usually years after it was introduced, and many times it was after the death of the doctor who had introduced some innovative treatment. There was no medical establishment as such. The only establishment at that time was the religious establishment, but in ancient Greece or Rome, for example, they did not take such an active part in treatment. They were more spiritual, not down to earth so much as to really bother themselves with the treatment of people. It's hard to say that the medical profession as such even existed then. There were a few people scattered here and there who were treating diseases, but the profession as such, the medical establishment, did not exist.
AL: And it wasn't viewed as intellectual work. It was manual labor.

SB: It was dirty work, and doctors were regarded as rather low people, to the point where in some countries, for instance, there were precautions that a husband should never allow a medical doctor to see his wife in his absence.
But once the profession was established and the establishment was formed, then persecution began. And I think the history of medical invention since then is like a battlefield, because most of the inventors were eliminated and only some were able to bring the discovery to use during their lives.

AL: What about your own situation regarding innovation and persecution?

SB: When I began the research in Poland, most of the researchers in my department didn't know exactly what I was doing, and when they found out, I already had enough evidence to make a doctoral thesis in biochemistry nearly fifteen years earlier than is usually done in the system. I already had advanced research done. It was too late to eliminate this project. I was able to have something like seven years of peace and tranquility to do my research, and then all of a sudden, when I had accumulated enough data, I went for the doctoral thesis, and it was too late to stop me.
In Poland, the real problem was that I made the doctoral thesis very soon, probably the first time after the Second World War that somebody in Poland did his Ph.D. thesis immediately after making MD graduation. Usually the doctors who receive the MD go through a number of years of apprenticeship before they are able to make their own dissertation. It is like the feudal system. You have to serve your lord in this or that department for a certain number of years, and if you serve well, finally you may reach some knighthood or independence.

AL: What happened when you moved here?

SB: Initially, the situation was much different. I could do independent research even at the level of research associate, which is what I was when I first came to the US, to Baylor College of Medicine here in Houston. I soon filed a grant proposal, and after the grant was approved, I was nominated to assistant professor. The system here is more democratic, and it's not unusual for a younger researcher to do some independent project.

But if I would have fallen from the very beginning into the cancer research center at Baylor, then I think the situation would have been much more similar to Poland. I would have gone through a number of years of apprenticeship here serving the other lords. Why I was able to do an independent project soon after I arrived in the US was just coincidence, because it happened that I was employed not by the cancer research center but by the department of anesthesiology, which was as far removed from cancer research as you can imagine. Therefore the chairman of the department did not understand too much of what I was doing. Also, the man who hired me, George Ungar, who was the head of a laboratory doing research on brain peptides and memory. He knew what I was doing, but probably didn't estimate the right potential of this research.

AL: As a lay person, I know that scientific research is always done in an ultra-specific realm, but that animating the shape of the research is some overriding and very large idea, and that extrapolation is a basic feature in the thought processes. You don't work on fruit flies because you are interested in fruit flies; you work on them because it will tell you about something bigger. So how is it that in this field, which is so dependent on careful, intelligent extrapolation, even people doing their own work in peptides could not conceive of the implications of your work?

SB: Most researchers in biochemistry were doing what we can call "wet chemistry": mince the organs, isolate something, see what it is, identify it, and maybe find out if it has any activity or not. They didn't realize that there may be information encoded in the peptide chain. They looked upon the peptide as any other chemical, and the dream of the chemist was to find some new chemical, identify it, give it a name, obtain it synthetically, and see if it can do something useful. Very few of them had any background in information theory and cybernetics, and very few of them knew much about cancer or looked on cancer as a disease of information processing. The other thing was that biochemists in the U.S. usually had very little medical background, if any. And also, I found these particular peptides in the blood and urine, but most researchers in biochemistry looked upon peptides as something not worth studying: waste products which probably did not serve any purpose in the body.

Peptides were what everybody thought were probably the fragments of proteins, something which is the breakdown of an important molecule. They were interested in things which were more or less stable and difficult to break down further. But peptides were really too labile to study, too enigmatic. One time the proteins may break and the peptide fragment may have 10 amino acids, and another time the fragment may have 12 or 15. They probably felt somewhat insecure that this was changing constantly, and probably believed it was just by accident that the protein may break into so many small fragments, and how could they do something useful? The technology to study peptides was not well developed; those which really had some biological activity existed in small quantities, and laboratory techniques used either for amino acids or proteins were too crude. They needed something more precise to detect these minute peptides.

AL: Is it because peptides are so changeable that they can carry information?

SB: It is easier to encode information in a shorter chain than in a big chain. It is easier to put together a word by putting together a few letters-a few peptides-than to have a whole page of a book, if the whole page is a big chain of protein. Peptides are more flexible.

Dr. Ungar's discovery that peptides are part of memory processing helped me enormously. I already knew there were other peptides isolated from the blood which have activity in the gastrointestinal tract and others which have activity against blood pressure. So then I felt that there must be some peptide information processing system which exists everywhere: in the brain, in blood, in the gastrointestinal tract, in blood vessels, in cancer cells and in every other cell. I felt that there must be specific peptides synthesized in various organs which were responsible for certain tasks, but I knew that most of these peptides finally would be excreted from these organs into the bloodstream, and from the bloodstream into the urine. So instead of mincing a particular organ or different cells, if you fractionate the peptides in urine and blood, provided you have sensitive (diagnostic) methods, there is a chance that you will find many of the peptides which are produced in the body.

All told, we isolated something like 119 peptide fractions. Some of them had activity against cancer, some had activity on the heart or the gastrointestinal tract, and some had no activity that we could find. It doesn't mean that they don't have any activity, simply that we didn't test them for some activity which they may have.

AL: Your assumption is that there's nothing in the body that has no function?

SB: That's true. But you have to find the proper bioassay to see what kind of activity these peptides have. The ideal situation would be if at the same time, from the same sample of blood or urine, we could isolate each of these fractions and we could test them and find out what they are doing. Finally, if we accumulate enough data, we can break the code.
Then you could probably design some peptides which would have such-and-such activity, without needing to isolate them from the blood. Once you become acquainted with which amino acids correspond to which letter of the alphabet, you can put these amino acids together in the laboratory. Then you don't need to go through the pain of isolation and identification. You can make these peptides synthetically, and they should work in a certain way.
AL: Don't we hear things about genetic engineering that are analogous?

SB: Well, somewhat, but that is based on the code which is in DNA and RNA. What they are doing now in most of the centers where they study DNA is that they are trying finally to decipher the genetic code. The code which we have in peptides is more complex than the code in DNA, because we are dealing with twenty variables, 20 common amino acids which may be arranged in different sequences. The code in DNA is much simpler, because we are dealing only with four different bases.

What really counts is how many variables you have, not the length of the chain. More variables means more permutations. The real project in the future would be to decipher the code which is in peptides, to know which amino acid corresponds to which letter of the alphabet, and then you can build a whole language of amino acids and peptides. This would be the real project.

AL: Wait a minute, this doesn't translate into the creation of life, does it?
SB: Well, finally it does, because if you break down the code in DNA and RNA, and if you break down the code in peptides and proteins, then I think you would be able to have most of the information necessary to make particular human beings.

Anyway, my idea was to study peptides as information carrying molecules, and I picked up on cancer first because cancer seemed to be the most intriguing. Cancer to me was the disease of information processing. I felt that we could influence cancer growth through the use of peptides, but at the same time I was thinking about the other possibilities. Of course, other people's work had strong influences on the way I was thinking. The impact of Dr. Ungar on my work was sub influstantial, because his idea of some encoding of information in brain peptides was encoding of information as such. And, on the other hand, one of my professors in Poland, Professor Mazur, had expanded my knowledge to the area of cybernetics. Then I could make the jump to the assumption that in our body we have a peptide information system which carries information from cell to cell and also inside the cell, and that most of the diseases we have will probably happen because we have some errors in information processing.

AL: So cybernetic theory took biochemistry and sort of set it into motion. It enabled you to grasp the body as a system.
SB: That's right. Instead of looking at peptides as such-and-such substances, I look on peptides as words, pieces of information. This was really important.
Article copyright FAIM.
By Avis Lang


Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a Pioneer in Alternative Cancer Treatment, Faces 290 Years Imprisonment on the FDA's Trumped Up Charges -- Patients and Supporters Speak Out in His Defense --

On January 6, 1997, one of America's most notable cancer pioneers, Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, was taken to court by the FDA in a trial that could effectively block a revolutionary cancer treatment and jeopardize the lives of more than 300 of his cancer patients. This trial marks the fourth legal attempt by the FDA to imprison Dr. Burzynski and shut down his practice. Supporters and patients of Dr. Burzynski have formed the Dr. Burzynski Legal Defense Fund and have engaged in nationwide campaign to raise awareness as well as financial support.

Twenty years ago, Dr. Burzynski discovered that antineoplastons, amino acids that occur naturally in the body, can genetically reprogram cancer cells to normal. Dr. Burzynski has been synthesizing antineoplastons and has successfully treated over 3,000 patients with this non-toxic drug since 1977. Most of these patients had been given up on by their oncologists or medical doctors after chemotherapy or radiation failed to halt their disease. The success of antineoplastons in the treatment of cancer has been recognized by the National Cancer Institute. In addition the FDA has approved 68 Phase II clinical trials for many types of cancer and also HIV.

Nevertheless, the FDA has repeatedly tried to shut down Dr. Burzynski's practice. They prosecuted him in 1983, 1990 and 1994. In 1983, the judge ruled in favor of Dr. Burzynski, allowing him to continue administering antineoplastons in Texas under state law. The FDA was unhappy with this ruling and wrote that they would use "other means, including search and seizures and criminal prosecutions." Since 1985, the FDA has raided Dr. Burzynski's clinic several times, confiscated vital medical records, harassed his patients and obstructed his practice. Despite FDA efforts, the 1990 and 1994 grand jury investigations also failed to indict him.

In 1995, the FDA raided the clinic again and began the fourth grand jury investigation. On November 20, Dr. Burzynski and his research institute were indicted on 75 counts of "interstate commerce of an unapproved drug" because his patients left the state of Texas with his treatment. If convicted, Dr. Burzynski faces up to 290 years in jail. According to Dr. Nicholas Patronas, the National Cancer Institute's Chief of Neuroradiology, Dr. Burzynski's 300 patients will die if his practice is shut down. Meanwhile, Assistant US Attorney Mike Clark declared that "whether antineoplastons does or does not work is not an issue," and that if this comes up in the trial, it would be an "irrelevant, emotional, prejudicial and misleading concern."

Never before has the FDA approved an experimental drug for clinical trials with cancer patients while simultaneously trying to destroy the scientist who discovered it. According to Julian Whitaker, MD, who has likened the significance of Dr. Burzynski's research to the discovery of antibiotics, "If the FDA wins this unholy war with Dr. Burzynski, they will not only destroy one of the most promising cancer therapies we have, they will also reinforce the message that any physician or scientist with the talent, energy and courage to make a positive difference in the health field, had best move to another country."

Despite relentless pressure from the FDA and opposition from the medical community, Dr. Burzynski persists. "I'm going to fight no matter what they do," he says, "because I believe I'm doing the right thing. I believe that this is our obligation to the people. If you find something that's valuable, you must continue and I believe that we've found something that may save lives."

To finance his legal battle, Dr. Burzynski's patients and their families and friends have established the Dr. Burzynski Legal Defense Fund (BLDF). While the FDA employs a battery of attorneys funded by taxpayers, the BLDF is facing a severe financial crisis. Steven and Mary Jo Siegel are spokespersons for the BLDF and the Burzynski's Patient Group. Steven Siegel is a founder and trustee of BLDF, has testified on Congressional hearings and has lobbied for the reform of the FDA. Mary Jo Siegel is a former patient of Dr. Burzynski who was cured of lymphoma, a terminal cancer, with antineoplastons. Contact Therese Emmanuel or Steven Mehler at 1-800-201-4443.

Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.

BURZYNSKI, Stanislaw
CANCER -- Patients -- Treatment

The author reflects on the contribution of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski on treating cancer patients. She mentions several stories of a person that went to Burzynski's Clinic and has successful cancer treatment which includes Jodi Gold Fenton, Dustin Kunnari, and a four-year-old boy Paul Michaels. She encouraged anyone who is diagnosed with cancer to check the remarkable therapy offered by Dr. Burzynski, who has effectively treated 50 types of cancer.

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