Stanislaw Burzynski comments on new cancer science, hilarity ensues

It occurs to me that it’s been a while since I’ve written anything about Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski. Truth be told, I had been hoping not to write about him for a while, and I had been actually succeeding. The last time I took notice of him was about a month ago, when his propagandist Eric Merola whined about how Dr. Hidaeki Tsuda, the Japanese anesthesiologist who was featured in the second movie that Merola made about Burzynski, had seen his latest manuscript rapidly rejected by The Lancet Oncology. In Tsuda’s segment in the movie he claimed to have done a clinical trial showing that the addition of Burzynski’s antineoplastons to chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer greatly improved survival. As I pointed out on multiple occasions, data talk, BS walk. Presenting the very barest outline of a clinical trial in a propaganda movie directed by an admirer whose work is so blatantly biased that it’s hard to take him seriously.

In any case, I was enjoying the lack of news about Burzynski and hoping that the next news I heard about him would involve his being shut down by the FDA or the Texas Medical Board acting to try to take his medical license away again. It didn’t, unfortunately. What I did see was a press release entitled Burzynski Clinic heralds tumor treatment breakthrough:

PHILADELPHIA, PA, September 05, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Burzynski Clinic is a leading cancer treatment center that focuses on using personalized targeted therapy to treat difficult types of cancer such as brain tumors. When tumors do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation, or those are not viable options, people often look for alternative forms of treatment. A recent article in Healthline reveals encouraging treatment therapy that may help to destroy dangerous cancer cells. Professionals from the Burzynski Clinic weigh in on these new developments.

Oh, goody. Burzynski’s going to weigh in on someone else’s work. I can’t wait. It’s rather like me commenting on art history. Actually, it’s worse than that, because I do have a modicum of knowledge about art history. It’s a tiny bit of knowledge, but I guarantee you that the quality and breadth of my knowledge about art history likely exceeds the quality and breadth of Stanislaw Burzynski’s understanding of cancer. That is, of course, not saying much, but it should give you an idea of the amusement that watching Burzynski comment on new science should provide. True, it probably won’t be as hilariously off-base as the time Burzynski, in his arrogance of ignorance, proclaimed himself a pioneer in personalized cancer therapy so awesome that M.D. Anderson follows his lead, but it should be amusing.

In any case, this appears to be the story that prompted Burzynski to comment, and this is the study that prompted the news story. It’s an interesting concept, a new class of drugs targeting tropomyosin, a core component of actin filaments. (Actin filaments make up the cytoskeleton of cells.) If the tumor cytoskeleton is impaired, then tumor cell motility can be affected. Indeed, that’s the mechanism by which taxol and taxanes work; they target another component of the cytoskeleton, tubulin. This blocks cell cycle progression and prevents mitosis. Similar results, apparently, are observed with TR100 due to its ability to selectively act on the tropomyosin in tumor cells, which sounds promising. In particular, what looked especially good is that there didn’t appear to be any cardiac toxicity, which is always a worry for a drug that inhibits tropomyosin.

All of which is basically what Burzynski says, but he appears to have basically cribbed his statements from press releases on the drug, particularly the part at the end, where it states:

Professionals at the Burzynski Clinic are keeping their eye on these promising developments, but have some reservations.

And:

The Burzynski Clinic is interested to see the results of future clinical trials.

Well, duh. You could say that about virtually any new class of drugs. Only the specific reservations would vary.

This press release, as inane and uninformative as it was (not to mention utterly pointless), made me wonder what Burzynski’s been up to. Idly, I clicked on the link to the Burzynski Clinic in the press release and immediately noticed that it was a different site than the original Burzynski Clinic site. The old site is the same old Burzynski site we’ve all come to know and despise. It’s fairly slick and well-designed. The new site is pretty bare bones and proclaims:

What makes this clinic so different?

This clinic stands out from others because its staff attempts to directly treat the genes that are being overexpressed and that are associated with certain difficult forms of cancer. In addition, this treatment center provides patients with numerous treatment options.

How does this clinic treat cancer?

Every form of cancer is essentially caused by a combination of abnormal genes. Because this combination will ultimately determine the progression of the disease, it is best to attack cancer at the source. The specialists at Burzynski Clinic will design a personalized treatment regime for each patient, taking into consideration the effect that genes have on the overall outcome.

All of this is standard, post-antineoplaston Burzynski nonsense. As I’ve explained many times before, what he does resembles cutting edge personalized gene therapy only in that he uses targeted agents. He does it so poorly that I call Burzynski’s version of it “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy for dummies.”

What’s deceptive about the website (and quite typical of Burzynski) is the the choice of testimonials to “prove” how awesome Burzynski is. Some of the names are familiar, such as Tori Moreno, who was treated with antineoplastons, Burzynski’s peptides that he isolated from blood and urine so long ago and proclaimed to be the be-all and end-all of treatment for advanced malignancies. She wasn’t treated with Burzynski’s personalized gene therapy concoctions at all. Ditto Elizabeth Mora and Mary K. Brittain, who was also treated with antineoplastons, and Carol Bricker and Tracy Edry, who were both treated with Aminocare (antineoplastons) and pheynylbutyrate, which is also, in essence, antineoplastons. Most of these patients used for testimonials for Burzynski weren’t treated with his witches’ brew of targeted therapies based on his “personalized gene-targeted therapy.” Of course, all that Burzynski has left is his “personalized” therapy because the FDA put a partial clinical hold on antineoplastons back in the summer of 2012 for pediatric patients, a hold that was extended to adults early this year. Burzynski can’t enroll new cancer patients in his bogus antineoplaston clinical trials, although he can keep treating the patients he already has.

Something appears to be going on. I’m not sure what, but something’s definitely going on. I notice that the Burzynski Patients Fight Back site has been redesigned so as to be less obnoxious from a design standpoint, although it is every bit as silly from a content standpoint. Meanwhile, the @BurzynskiSaves Twitter feed has been reborn as @BurzynskiSaves1.

As the old song goes: There’s something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.