Cancer patients get the word out: advocates of a promising nontoxic cancer treatment have captured the attention of the cancer establishment – News & notes: latest research, interviews, product reviews, tips, and trends

Cancer patients get the word out: advocates of a promising nontoxic cancer treatment have captured the attention of the cancer establishment – News & notes: latest research, interviews, product reviews, tips, and trends – Brief Article

Clare Horn

A GRASS-ROOTS GROUP OF CANCER PATIENTS AND their families proved recently that ordinary people can make a difference in which therapies get research attention and which get ignored. After months of applying pressure on the cancer establishment, the Boston-based group has accomplished one small but important step. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has agreed to take a closer look at the alternative cancer treatment 714X, a nontoxic liquid formula said to strengthen the immune system, and will decide shortly if it wants to fund a trial on the formula.

Because 714X isn’t FDA-approved, doctors currently can’t prescribe it and Americans have to import it from Canada. For years, no American institution would study the formula, in part because its developer, the Canadian biologist Gaston Naessens, lacks a medical degree. The one researcher who did start testing 714X, in 1999 at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, unexpectedly dropped the project earlier this year.

When they learned that research on 714X had ceased, several grass-roots activists spoke up. Cheryl Cavallo, 40, who is fighting metastasized breast cancer, and Billy Best, a 23-year-old Hodgkin’s survivor, credit 714X with saving their lives. Best’s parents and Cavallo started talking to anyone who would listen about the treatment’s promise. In response, one newspaper and three TV stations in Boston ran stories on the treatment.

The media blitz worked. Earlier this year, Faye Austin, Ph.D., director of research at Dana-Farber, asked the NCI to consider funding a trial. Cavallo thinks Dana-Farber officials simply got weary: “They did it to get people off their backs because of the media and because so many people were calling them.”

This August, Naessens and his Quebec-based company, CERBE Distribution Inc., presented 16 case studies on 714X to the NCI. If the institute decides to fund a large-scale trial, that could pave the way for FDA approval of the product.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group