The Trophoblastic Theory of Cancer

Chapter 53 ~ The Trophoblastic Theory of Cancer

Placenta anatomic diagram from Gray’s Anatomy published in 1918

Have you ever wondered why cancer treatment has not changed much in over 70 years? Why is chemotherapy still the mainstay of conventional cancer treatment after all these years of disappointing results for the majority of cancer cell types? Perhaps we should be exploring alternatives. At a medical meeting I attended, Nicholas Gonzalez MD presented his views on the etiology of cancer and cancer treatment. Dr. Gonzalez was actively engaged in medical practice in Manhattan where he treated advanced cancer successfully with high dose oral pancreatic enzymes. This treatment regimen is based on the Trophoblastic Theory of Cancer. This theory was originally proposed by a Scottish embryologist named John Beard (1858-1924), and was resurrected by William Donald Kelley, DDS (1926-2005).

(John Beard (1858 – 1924) published his “Trophablastic Theory of Cancer” in the The Lancet in 1902).

John Beard and the Trophoblast Theory
John Beard (1858-1924), was a Scottish embryologist who used the light microscope to study developmental embryology as well as cancer pathology. In 1905, Beard was the first to report that trophoblast cells act and behave in a manner identical to cancer cells, acting invasively, and inducing their own blood supply. This observation has been confirmed with more recent research. The trophoblast cell is a cell derived from the Placenta, a structure inside the uterus of a pregnant mother which serves as blood supply for the developing embryo.

What are Trophoblasts? Similarity with Cancer Cells
In the pregnant mother, trophoblasts are the infiltrative components of the developing embryo which form the placenta. These cells invade and infiltrate into the wall of the mother’s uterus. This behavior is very similar to the way cancer cells infiltrate and invade surrounding tissues. These trophoblast cells are known to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). In fact, production of HCG is the basis for the widely used pregnancy test. If cancer cells and trophoblast cells are similar, one would expect cancer cells to also produce HCG. That is exactly what they do. This was reported in 1995 by Hernan Acevedo, PhD, and published in the journal, Cancer. He found that every cancer produces HCG, same as the trophoblast cells of pregnancy. Since John Beard’s day about one hundred years ago, modern biologists have found even more similarities between trophoblasts and malignant cancer cells. Dr. C. Ferretti in the October 2006 issue of Human Reproduction Update, states that both cancer and trophoblast cells share the same molecular circuitry for their proliferative, invasive and migratory capacities.

CT Antigens Discovered
Another twist to the story is the recent discovery of a new class of human tumor antigens called CT (cancer/testis) antigens. About 90 genes have been found having messenger RNA expression in both germ cells (testis) and cancer cells, and no expression in otherwise normal cells. This is further evidence linking the trophoblast cells, which are, in fact, germ cells (also called stem cells), with cancer cells. These recent advances in molecular biology have shown that John Beard was quite correct to point out the similarity between placental trophoblast cells and malignant cancer cells. Beard’s forgotten predictions in the early 1900’s seem to have an uncanny way of resurfacing 100 years later.

Pancreatic Enzymes on Day 56
On Day Fifty Six of embryonic development, John Beard observed through his microscope trophoblast cells suddenly transform from malignant, invasive cells into mature and well behaved cells. This day 56 transformation also coincides with the appearance of enzyme granules (also called zymogen granules) in the fetal pancreas. Obviously, since all nutrition comes from the maternal blood supply, the developing fetus in-utero has no need for pancreatic enzymes. These are used later after the fetus is born when the baby starts eating food. Beard theorized the appearance of pancreatic enzymes was no accident, and that the enzymes caused transformation of the trophoblast cells behavior from “malignant” to a “benign” cell type. This logic suggested the use of digestive enzymes to control cancer cells. A number of studies in both animal models and humans have actually confirmed the utility of pancreatic enzyme for cancer treatment.

About the same time as John Beard’s early work, Madam Curie’s (1867-1934) work treating cancer with radiation took the spotlight, and captured the imagination of the media and the public. John Beard’s work on the Trophoblast Theory was dismissed by mainstream medical science and almost forgotten.

An excellent review of recent research confirming John Beard’s work as well as the value of enzyme treatments for cancer is: “A Critique of the Kelley Nutritional-Metabolic Cancer Program” by Melina A. Roberts BSc. From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients June 2003. A leading biochemist, Ernst Krebs, wrote an important 1950 paper supporting the Trophoblast Theory of Cancer entitled “The Unitarian or Trophoblastic Thesus of Cancer” by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., Ernst T. Krebs, Sr., and Howard H. Beard.

William Donald Kelley Resurrects John Beard’s Work
Years later in the 1960’s, William Kelly discovered Beard’s forgotten papers, and resurrected the treatment of cancer with pancreatic enzymes. Kelly had considerable success treating patients with this alternative cancer treatment approach. However, Kelly was a dentist, and bitterly opposed by mainstream medicine, and as expected, had difficulties with the authorities. Kelly was convicted of practicing medicine without a license in 1970, his dental license was suspended in 1976, and he passed away on Jan. 30, 2005 at the age of 79.

A young Dr. Gonzalez with his mentor… Dr. William D. Kelley

Nicholas Gonzalez’ Research
In 1981, during the Kelly’s early years, a medical student at Cornell Medical School by the name of Nicholas Gonzalez was given a summer project to interview William Donald Kelly and evaluate his results with cancer patients using the pancreatic enzyme treatment. Gonzalez did a retrospective review of 1300 patients who had been treated over a 20-year period with the Kelley protocol with enzymes, diet and nutritional support. Gonzalez was so impressed with the data, and the superior patient outcomes, that this summer project expanded into a book, and later adopted as his own life’s work.

Continuing after Kelly, Nicholas Gonzalez MD carried on with his legacy at a Manhattan office, documenting remarkable success over the past decade or so. Selected case reports from the Gonzalez Manhattan office show dramatic clinical results not possible with conventional mainstream cancer treatment. This information is posted on the Dr Gonzalez web site.

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

In 1999, Gonzalez published a 2 year pilot study of 10 patients with inoperable advanced pancreatic cancer treated with large doses of orally ingested pancreatic enzymes. Results showed 80% survival after 1 year, 45% survival after 2 years and 36% survival after 3 years. These results are far above the 25% one year, 10% two year, and 6 % three year survival reported in the National Cancer Data Base for inoperable pancreatic cancer. Shortly after this, Gonzalez received a $1.4 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health for further study on enzyme therapy and pancreatic cancer. The study was to be conducted at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York under the supervision of the NCI and with approval from the FDA. This study ran into snags and is yet to be completed or published.

Publisher’s NOTE: Dr. Gonzalez suddenly passed away in July 2015. As of March 2017, his autopsy is still listed as, “inconclusive.” ~ J.B.

Otto Warburg

Otto Warburg
Otto Warburg made important contributions to the understanding of the metabolic activity of cancer. All cancers, as well as trophoblast cells have a high glucose utilization using the primitive glycolysis pathway. They tend not to use oxidative phosphorylation and thrive in a low oxygen environment. This is known as the Warburg Effect. Recent work has built on Warburg’s ideas using inhibitors of glycolysis such as 3 bromopyruvate to kill cancer cells by stopping glycolysis. Others have used insulin induced hypoglycemia to starve cancer cells of their glucose substrate. Avid glucose uptake is the basis of modern PET (positron emission tomography) imaging of the body which is capable of showing cancer deposits with radiolabeled 17-Flouro-deoxyglucose. This has prompted interest in compounds which inhibit glucose metabolism such as 2-De-Oxy-Glucose, which kills cancer cells.(73)

Aneuploidy – and Confined Placental Mosaicism
Recently there has been resurgence of interest in aneuploidy and cancer championed by Peter Duesberg in his 2007 article in Scientific American, “Chromosomal Chaos and Cancer”. Aneuploidy or abnormal and multiple sets of chromosomes is commonly found in cancer, and also found in the placenta. Using ultrasound guided chorionic villous sampling, it has been discovered that between 2-5% of placental samples show aneuploid cells; this is called confined placental mosaicism, which apparently does not affect the developing embryo.

No Coexistence of Cancer with Circulating Enzymes of Pancreatitis
One last point I am compelled to mention. During my 30 year career as a radiologist much of my time was spent reading images of metastatic cancer on CAT scans. One of the things I noticed was that I never witnessed the presence of metastatic cancer in patients who had pancreatic enzymes circulating freely in the bloodstream from acute or chronic diffuse pancreatitis. Excluded of course was focal pancreatitis caused by an obstructed pancreatic duct due to a small pancreatic cancer. Thus I had independently confirmed the major tenet of John Beard and Ernst Krebs many years before I even heard of the trophoblastic theory of cancer.

Cancer of Small Bowel Relatively Rare
Another observation most experienced radiologists and surgeons will make is the relative rarity of neoplasm involving the small bowel compared to the relative common appearance (50 times more common) of neoplasm in the colon and the stomach. Ernst Krebs makes this same observation in his landmark 1950 paper on the Unified Trophoblast Theory of Cancer, and Krebs suggests that pancreatic enzymes released into the duodenum at the duct of Wirsung and Santorini are responsible for this 50 times reduction in small bowel cancer. The age-adjusted death rate for cancer of the colon is 47 times higher than cancer of the small bowel, at 0.4 for small bowel and 18.8 for colon cancer per 100,000 men and women per year.

NIH Grant Proposal to Study Cancer
The NIH (National Institute of Health) has spent literally trillions over four decades on failed cancer research. It is time to take a different approach with a few proposals to investigate the trophoblast theory of cancer. A widely used technique in molecular biology is the tracer study. The older tracer method involved the use of Carbon 14 radio-labeling. The newer method uses insertion of the green florescent protein (GFP) into the protein one wishes to study.

Carbon 14 Radio-Labeled Trypsin
The proposed study can be done by using Carbon 14 radio-labeling of key amino acids in the pancreatic enzyme, trypsin, and feeding these radio-labeled amino acids to the pigs used to harvest the trypsin for later use. Then administer the radio-labeled trypsin enzymes to an animal model of cancer looking for the distribution of the radio-label in the sacrificed animals. If there is an effect on the cancer cells, I would expect to find the radio-labeled enzymes at the surface of the cancer cells.

Victory Over Cancer

GFP Green Florescent Protein
Another more elegant approach would be to genetically modify the pancreatic trypsin enzyme in mice by adding a green florescent marker gene (GFP), a common technique used in molecular biology. If pancreatic enzymes control the trophoblast, then the experiments should confirm the presence of the florescent marker at the trophoblast cells after day 56 in the developing embryo. To study cancer, the green florescent gene (GFP) can be inserted into DNA of the animals (usually pigs) used to manufacture the pancreatic enzymes. These labeled enzymes can then be administered to mice pretreated with cancer cells. Knowledge about the rate of survival of the treated vs. control mice as well as the fate of the labeled enzymes would be useful. If the enzymes are having an effect on the cancer cells, then I would expect the florescent label or radio-label to be found at the tumor site.

Using the NIH to Find a Cure for Cancer
A few decades ago, Richard Nixon, declared a war against cancer and ramped up funding for NIH research which mostly went towards proving the idea that cancer was caused by a virus. This line of research expended massive amounts of money and ended a dismal failure. A new and more promising direction for cancer research would be to investigate the mysteries of the trophoblast which shares so many features in common with cancer cells. We now have the molecular tools that John Beard a century ago could only imagine. How do we get the NIH to pursue this? Use political pressure by contacting your congressman and asking them to push the NIH to fund the research.

Conclusion: Advances in molecular biology now make it fairly straightforward to validate and expand on the early work of Scottish embryologist John Beard, Ernst Krebs and Otto Warburg. The research costs for such a program would be minimal and the potential gains enormous.

For references and links, visit: Bioidentical Hormones 101.

Written by Jeffrey Dach MD and extracted from his book, Bioidentical Hormones 101 ~ February 2009.

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