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Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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December 14, 2011

Burzynski Revisited

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Posted by Derek

Here, courtesy of Science-Based Medicine, is a comprehensive look at the Burzynski cancer clinic's methods. If you have any interest at all in cancer quackery or semi-quackery, or especially if you know of anyone desperate enough to approach the Burzynski people themselves, here's everything you need to know from a med-chem point of view.

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Cancer | Snake Oil


1. Chris D. on December 14, 2011 1:37 PM writes...

Note that there was a 60-Minutes expose on this thief about a year ago, if I remember correctly.

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2. partial agonist on December 14, 2011 4:44 PM writes...

It seems like you can make a lot more money just trying to sound scientific and peddling a lot of woo to desperate people than you can by actually being a reputable scientist.

It may be easier to stay employed that way too these days, sadly.

You don't need to export fake research to China and India, since faking is pretty darn cheap.

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3. Vader on December 15, 2011 11:11 AM writes...

It seems like you can make a lot more money just trying to sound scientific and peddling a lot of woo to desperate people than you can by actually being a reputable scientist.

I don't do too badly working on giant lasers of death, but yeah. I've wondered how much more I could make casting "quantum horoscopes" advertised as being computed on giant supercomputer clusters.

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4. David Young MD on December 15, 2011 1:53 PM writes...

Phenylbutyrate... interesting. I recall phenylbutyrate being looked at some 6 or 7 years ago for it's properties as a Histone DeAcetylase Inhibitor, if I recall. Perhaps to prevent sickling in sickle cell patients. There are other "cheap" HDAC drugs on the market as well,.... Valproic acid, for example, which has not worked wonders as an anticancer drug but is said to show activity in a few acute myeloid leukemia trials, specifically one from Germany, reported about 5 years ago. (Our currently available anticancer HDAC drugs are very expensive.)

Phenylbutyrate might have activity in an occasional patient, but it is doubtful that it has activity in most cancers. But that occasional tumor regression observed could be due to HDAC inhibition. But those cases where there is some tumor regression, it is more likely due to the concommitant drugs given, such as Tarceva in lung cancer and Sutent in other cancers. It is extemely doubtful that Bruzynski's treatment ever results in a remarkable anticancer effect, however.

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5. r. pal on December 15, 2011 9:33 PM writes...

The bottom line is outcome of the patient, and based on what I have read it has it sure and better than any chemo or radiation

US govt filed many patents on it even though though the tex a Clinic had the patent. The patent office issued it that is the power of the US government.

During that time they harassed him even though he violated no law and failed. He was a quack his license would have revoked after all these years.

The forum passes his work as not convincing but his is far more better than the radiation and chemo and other treatments that kill 100,000 americans every year who die from the side effects of the drugs.
Dr Lowe why not write about this problem

Blogs like yours need to be more honest in presenting the truth and not demagogue the clinic in Texas.

I am disappointed at what you have written

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6. WB on December 16, 2011 2:01 AM writes...

If I remember correctly, this "doctor" even managed to secure Government funding, but it was eventually pulled because he wasn't running proper trials. What is shocking though is the Government did try to put a stop to his nefarious activities only to find him being defended by his deluded patients (in the 60 Minutes piece Chris mentioned). I also recall someone did a follow up two on his "cured" patients, and found they both died of cancer. Someone should look into his other patients. It's also a pity that people like r. pal think reading is the same thing as understanding-- you can read the spins that Burzynski puts out all you want, it doesn't mean you understand the science nor can you discern fact from fiction.r pal does have one good point-- why hasn't this quack's medical license been revoked yet?

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7. David Young MD on December 16, 2011 3:11 PM writes...

r. pal said "based on what I have read it has it sure and better than any chemo or radiation>"

Tell me, you know of randomized clinical trials comparing patient on Bruzynski to traditional chemotherapy? Why don't you give the references to those trials?

Or, perhaps those whom you read about a) didn't have as bad a cancer as they led the reader to believe, b) didn't have as advanced a cancer as you were led to believe, c) actually didn't fare as well as was described, d) actually have effective chemotherapy but didn't mention it... and as a consequence "seemed" to do better than what one might expect.

Just reading about testimonials is a poor way of judging the effectiveness of such and such a treatment. One needs comparisons through randomized trials.

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8. partial agonist on December 16, 2011 6:31 PM writes...

Just to add a smidgeon to David Young's excellent post,

from my understanding, even trying antineoplaston therapy in patients has never been done, legally anyway, except as an add-on to traditional chemotherapy.

So the "testimonials" you may read, r pal, if true at all, could well be responses to the traditional chemotherapy component of the treatment combination.

We would need a controlled clinical trial with real published data to tell if (antineoplastons + chemo) beats chemo itself at the same dose, something that we so far do not have.

There are as far as I can tell only two reasons we do not have it:

1) The head quack knows the answer and has chosen not to release that info to protect the bottom line/ cash flow,

2) He is just not interested in following the scientific method.

You must realize that I and just about anyone else reading this would be THRILLED to read REAL DATA suggesting a new therapy that REALLY WORKS.

Since the production of such data is decades overdue, you can readily understand that a skeptic (and every good scientist is a skeptic, not to be confused with a cynic) can only conclude that the data doesn't exist or doesn't tell the story we would hope to hear.

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9. Evorich on December 22, 2011 5:31 AM writes...

Surely he's taking the piss.

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10. noassemblyreqrd on April 17, 2012 11:56 PM writes...

I watched the movie, Burzynski, and googled the topic. I am not an expert, and don't pretend to be. What I am most struck by is the amount of time and money spent to obstruct our medical knowledge of a potential drug. If a fraction of the money spent to prevent this drug from being used was spent on examining and promoting its possible uses, we could have had answers to questions of its efficacy twenty or more years ago. Also, I have seen nothing which disputes that large sums of money were expended with an apparent motive of preventing a possible shift of profit from large companies to an individual. What other drugs that have potential promise and also have corporate sponsorship have languished for decades because of obstacles similar to those experienced by Burzynski? Name a single corporate drug manufacturer put through any of the same legal maneuvers. And if none, other than corporate greed, explain the difference.

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