Antineoplastons (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information
Antineoplastons are an experimental cancer therapy developed by S.R. Burzynski, MD, PhD. Chemically, antineoplastons are a mixture of amino acid derivatives, peptides, and amino acids found in human blood and urine.[1,2,3,4] The developer originally isolated antineoplastons from human blood and later found the same peptides in urine. Urine was subsequently used because it was less expensive and easier to obtain. Since 1980, antineoplastons have been synthesized from commercially available chemicals at the Burzynski Research Institute.[2,4]
According to the developer, antineoplastons are part of a biochemical surveillance system in the body and work as "molecular switches." For the developer, cell differentiation is the key to cancer therapy. At the molecular level, abnormal cells that are potential cancer cells need to be "switched" to normal mode. Antineoplastons are the surveillance system that directs cancer cells into normal channels of differentiation. According to statements published by the developer, people with cancer lack this surveillance system because they do not have an adequate supply of antineoplastons.[1,2,3]
Purpose of This Summary
This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about oral cancer prevention. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions.
Reviewers and Updates
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The notion of controlling tumor growth through a naturally occurring biochemical mechanism in the body that directs cancer cells into normal channels of differentiation is one of the theoretical foundations of antineoplaston therapy. In a complex organism like the body, cells are continuously differentiating. Groups of abnormal cells can arise under the influence of carcinogenic factors from outside or inside the body. The body must have a mechanism for dealing with these abnormal cells, or the organism will not live very long. The proposed components in the body that correct the differentiation problems of abnormal cells and send them into normal pathways have been given the name "antineoplastons."
The developer defines antineoplastons as "substances produced by the living organism that protect it against development of neoplastic growth by a nonimmunological process which does not significantly inhibit the growth of normal tissues."
The developer originally hypothesized the existence of antineoplastons by applying the cybernetic theory of information exchange in autonomous systems to the study of peptides in the blood. The living cell is an autonomous cybernetic system connected to, and receiving, information from its environment through an energy pathway and an information pathway. It was postulated that a regulator within such a system would control the transfer of information and the expenditure of energy. Peptides were considered the information carriers in the body. Hypothesizing that peptides were the carriers of differentiation information to the cells, the developed began looking for peptides in the blood of cancer patients that might correct abnormal differentiation.[1,2,3,5]
To begin the search for antineoplastons, the developer used human blood, separating and removing the peptides found there. Later it was discovered that the same peptide fractions existed in human urine. Each peptide fraction was tested in vitro against various normal and neoplastic cell lines to gauge their effect on DNA synthesis and growth. The fractions that had little or no inhibitory effect on normal cells but a substantial inhibitory effect on neoplastic cell lines were separated into two classes: those that were effective against a specific cell line and those that were active against a broad array of neoplastic cell lines. Those with a broad spectrum of activity were grouped together and called "antineoplaston A." Peptide fractions with specific antineoplastic activity were not investigated further.