"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: Tumor killing bacteria

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tumor killing bacteria

It has been known for 150 years that bacteria sometimes attack and destroy tumors. But how can one make that happen in a deliberate fashion, without also endangering the life of the patient? Wilhelm Busch of Bonn, Germany, tried to use Streptococcus pyogenes in some patients in the 1860s, but it proved far too dangerous. The same approach was rediscovered in the 1890s by William B. Coley, MD, of New York City, one of the great early heroes of oncology. Coley used killed bacteria and also added Serratia marcescens as a booster. The results were sometimes good and occasionally spectacular. But other doctors had difficulty reproducing these effects, mainly because the preparations made by Parke-Davis were almost entirely without activity. Their product was "Coley's toxins" in name only, but this did a lot of damage to Coley's reputation. Eventually his method was banned by the Food and Drug Administration and put on the American Cancer Society's blacklist of "unproven methods."

But some intrepid researchers never forgot Coley's successes. Thanks mainly to Coley's daughter, Helen Coley Nauts and Lloyd Old, MD, the idea of a bacterial treatment for cancer never died out completely. I recently wrote a detailed report on this topic, which you may want to see. It is available for sale at my cancerdecisions.com Web site:


Now a San Diego company called Anticancer, Inc. has invented a novel  way of delivering destructive bacteria to mice. This work has begun to generate a lot of excitement (including a laudatory 2009 article in the New York Times). So far it has only been performed in mice, but human clinical trials are promised as well.

To see a short narrated slide show on the treatment go to the company's Web site, www.anticancer.com and search for the video presentation called "Tumor Killing Bacteria."

This is certainly a very worthwhile idea in its own right, but it is also a powerful confirmation of the original ideas of Coley, which have been scorned and neglected for the better part of a century. I guess you can't keep a good idea down forever.