Penthouse Retrospective

by Gary Null, Leonard Steinman, Terry Leder, Kalev Pehme Originally Published: July, 1980

Cancer Politics – Part Five | 40 Years Ago This Month

Beginning in the early sixties, in association with several colleagues, Burton discovered a treatment that could shrink mouse tumors before one’s eyes, often in the space of an hour. From the time of these first experiments on mice until his self-imposed exile, he developed, and continues to experiment with, a therapy based on four protein components found in the blood: (1) a tumor antibody capable of destroying certain kinds of cancer cells; (2) a tumor complement, needed to activate the tumor antibody; (3) a “blocking” protein, a substance that inhibits the tumor antibody; and (4) a “deblocking” protein, which keeps the blocking protein neutralized so that the attack of the antibody and complement on tumor cells may be facilitated.

“The vendetta against Dr. Burton is an example of how the cancer establishment employs its power to the detriment of cancer victims.”

These four blood fractions isolated by Burton are believed to be an essential part of the basic immune system operative against cancer in the body. Theoretically, when these elements are in balance, the cancer cells that normally reside in everyone’s body are routinely destroyed by the combination of antibody and complement. If the blocking protein is in greater force than the antibody, then cancer cells are able to proliferate in the body. However, if the deblocking protein is adequately balanced against the blocking protein, then neutralization of blocking protein enables the tumor antibody and complement to annihilate cancer cells.

By daily injecting predetermined amounts of antibody, complement, and deblocking protein into cancer patients to achieve an augmented immunological response, Dr. Burton has been able to bring about remissions in various types of cancer tumors, sometimes even in the terminally ill. This “immuno-augmentative” process is nontoxic, because it uses the body’s own mechanisms to fight cancer. He also has used his fourfold theory to develop a cancer test, a way to tell whether a patient has cancer or is likely to develop it. This test can be performed by examining a blood sample.

If Burton’s theory and therapy are correct, the implications of his discoveries could have a sweeping effect on how we view cancer genesis and treatment. One of the major implications of Burton’s work is that the body has its own means of warding off cancer. Some patients’ immune systems, pathologically weakened by a quantitative lack of certain fractional blood factors, can be re-stimulated through Burton’s immuno-augmentation so that the body’s systems can again become effective in destroying cancer cells.

Burton’s discoveries, therefore, could eventually overturn the present methods of treating cancer and render obsolete the deadly triad of radical surgery, chemotherapy, and radiology. Considering that these cornerstone therapies of cancer “treatment” are the economic support of the cancer industry, it is no wonder that the establishment views innovators with savage hostility.

From the establishment of Burton’s Freeport clinic in late March 1977 to the end of January 1978, Burton was required to submit a status report to the chief medical officer of the Bahamian government. Burton’s report on his IRC showed that in that period 275 patients were treated at the facility, 27 of whom were terminal cases. Over a five-month period, 44.5 percent of these patients, including six of the terminal cases, showed containment or regression of their cancer after treatment by Burton’s methods; 36.5 percent, including 19 of the terminal cases, did not respond to the Burton treatment. The remainder and their progress could not be evaluated at that time.


Burton’s work is on the “Unproven Methods of Cancer Management” list kept by the American Cancer Society and distributed to foundations, hospitals, and research facilities to identify “unacceptable” cancer treatments. One of the interesting things our investigation uncovered was that not a single critic of Burton has attempted to test his therapy to see whether it works or not.

Burton’s troubles with the establishment did not begin with Great Neck or Freeport. They originated in the early sixties, when he was part of a research team at the Hodgkin’s Disease Research Laboratories of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. The team, headed by Dr. Antonio Rottino, an advisory board member of the Damon Runyon Memorial Fund, worked on carcinogenesis-attempting to find substances that promote tumor growth. The work was sponsored by major grants from Damon Runyon and the U. S. Public Health Service.

The trouble began after the team accidentally discovered a tumor inhibitor, which reduced or eliminated cancer in a special breed of leukemic mice. Excited by the discovery, the team contacted Dr. Chester Stock, presently vice-president and head of research at Sloan-Kettering, and shared some of their data with that institution. Stock expressed interest, and Sloan-Kettering sent a senior scientist, Dr. John Harris, to work with the St. Vincent’s team; it also agreed to replenish the stock of inbred leukemic mice.

The work continued and progress was made, Harris acting as liaison with Sloan-Kettering. Harris’s reports to his principal prompted Sloan-Kettering to offer a contract to the team. According to Burton, Rottino looked over the contract provisions and rejected them. For it appeared that the “joint cooperation” offered by Sloan-Kettering was merely a device for giving them all of the credit, while the researchers at St. Vincent’s would do all the work. As Burton recalls, “Rottino comes from New York, and he said some very choice words and threw the contracts in the garbage.”

Of all the things that should be above petty egotism, you might think pushing a cure for debilatating disease might qualify. Yet Cancer Politics thrives, sadly even 40 years after this article.

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