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View Diary: Monday Night Cancer Club: What Are We Getting for Our Money? (86 comments)

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  •  That research exists (5+ / 0-)
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    RubDMC, Sylv, cv lurking gf, slouchsock, Avila

    Well, more or less.

    I'll skip the organic chemistry background here.  Burzynski's antineoplastons aren't novel compounds.  They're a pair of normal metabolites, phenylacetic acid and phenylacetyl glutamine, along with the prodrug (that the body turns into those two), sodium phenylbutyrate.

    And, surprise!  There's actually real science about these things, dating back to the 1950s!  Sodium phenylbutyrate is treatment for some obscure metabolic disorders, and has actually had real studies as an oncology drug.  It's in a class of drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors; other HDIs, including Vorinostat and Romidepsin, are in use as therapy options for a specific form of lymphoma. Sodium phenylbutyrate itself has been the topic of a bunch of studies, which have been sort of a mixed bag.  For most cancer types, it doesn't seem to do anything at all.  For promyelocytic leukemia and malignant glioma, there's at least some evidence that it might.

    None of which makes Burzynski less of a quack. He's still abusing the drug trial process, charging tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for what are at best described as experimental therapies (and, note, in legitimate clinical drug studies, you aren't charged fees like this...). And his dosing protocols are very hazardous, at times 10 to 100 times the tolerance threshold established for sodium phenylbutyrate by real science (this has caused significant medical issues for some of his patients in its own right).  Not to mention the fact that he espouses his product as treatment for forms of cancer where we know it's not, and that he wraps it all up with salesmanship of the worst order, which you can see in everything from the "targeted gene therapy" claims (it's not) to the fact that he can't seem to publish a single paper after over a decade, but he's got the time for not one, but two, PR movies.

    Burzynski is not a heroic crusader.  He's a quack and a fraud, and his work tarnishes the reputation of legitimate medical science and muddies the waters for real potential treatments.

    "All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." -Douglas Adams

    by Serpents Choice on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 07:38:59 AM PDT

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    •  again, I'm not saying he's a heroic crusader (1+ / 0-)
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      I am saying the fact that his treatment (and you can add air quotes if you like) has caused remission in childhood brain cancer, even in a handful of cases, where the prognosis is generally so horrible, is worth independent research.  If his stuff might help treat malignant glioma, WE SHOULD BE RESEARCHING IT.  Not him, other scientists.  Researching it.  But we aren't.

    •  I think this is also true of our standard (4+ / 0-)

      treatment for cancers.

      For most cancer types, it doesn't seem to do anything at all.  
      He charges fees because the FDA has blocked all sources of funding. I think you can disagree with him but I feel it's unfair to call him a quack.

      I am a little uncomfortable with his notion of owning patents but hey the US has been busily snapping up his patents, there must be a reason.

      I just think that you shouldn't be able to patent things that will save lives. They should be public domain. But, I am a socialist living in a democracy.

      Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

      by ZenTrainer on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 09:27:28 AM PDT

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