Antineoplaston therapy

Antineoplaston therapy is an alternative and controversial cancer therapy available in America, developed by Dr S R Burzynski in the 1970s. While some people promote antineoplaston therapy as being an effective cure for cancer, there is, to date, no scientific evidence that supports this claim.

What are antineoplastons?

Antineoplastons are chemical compounds found naturally in blood and urine. The are made up of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and peptides (molecules made up of two or more amino acids). It has been suggested that these compounds have anti-cancer properties.

How is it thought to work?

Burzynski believes that antineoplastons form a natural part of our body's immune (defence) system and that people with cancer do not have enough of these compounds. The Burzynski clinic proposes that increasing these compounds will result in the body fighting the cancer and result in tumour shrinkage. Burzynski extracts antineoplastons from blood and urine and he can now make them in the laboratory. The antineoplastons are administered through tablets or injections into the body. There is currently no scientific evidence to support these claims.

Why is this treatment controversial?

  • Most studies that have been published on this therapy, have been authored by Dr Burzynski or his colleagues at the Burzynski clinic and do not meet the criteria needed to qualify as scientific evidence.
  • Although Burzynski's studies have reported 'remission', independent studies have not been able to repeat these results.
  • Burzynski's definition of what counts as remission is not the generally accepted definition.
  • To date, no trials have been conducted into the benefits of antineoplastons, which compare whether they are better than any existing treatments.
  • Due to this lack of clinical evidence, antineoplastons have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of any type of disease. The Burzynski clinic therefore can only offer antineoplaston therapy as part of a clinical trial.
  • This clinical trial has been going on for more than 35 years. It is unusual for a clinical trial to last more than a few years.
  • To take part in the clinical trial, you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars. Paying is not the norm in the UK.
  • A report published by the United States Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in 1990 concluded that:

    "Despite a substantial number of preliminary clinical studies publishes by Burzynski and his associates and an attempt at a 'best case' review, there is still a lack of valid information to judge whether this treatment is likely to be beneficial to cancer patients."

Are there any side-effects?

Antineoplastons may not have been thoroughly tested to find out how they interact with medicines, foods or dietary supplements and full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Therefore, any information on side-effects must be considered incomplete.

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