The People's Perspective on Medicine

751 Coley’s Toxin, Cancer and Immunology (Archive)

Dr. William Coley was a cancer surgeon at the turn of the 20th century. In an effort to improve the treatment he could offer his patients, he created a toxin that made them really sick. If they recovered from their fever, however, they were often cured of their sarcomas.
A century later, cancer researchers are taking a new look at Coley’s toxin and how it might help us understand spontaneous remissions and the role of the immune system. In exploring this topic, we encounter an innovative immunologist who has developed a new paradigm for how the immune system works.
Guest: Uwe Hobohm, PhD, is a cell biologist and Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Applied Sciences in Giessen, Germany. He has worked at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg and at F. Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel. He is the author of Healing Heat: An Essay on Cancer Immune Defence.

Polly Matzinger, PhD, is an ex-Playboy bunny turned scientist. At the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, she is section head of the Ghost Lab, more formally known as the section on T cell tolerance and memory of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology. In her private life, she trains award-winning sheep dogs. The photo is of Polly and her dog Annie.
This is the first in a 3-part series on cancer and the immune system.

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
4.3- 4 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 38 comments
Comments
Add your comment

Dear Joe and Terry,
I’ve passed along the links of the Coley’s Toxin series to many. At present there are several people urgently in need of contacting some of the researchers involved. However, on your site I find only Dr. Matzinger’s episode, and am trying to find the other two shows and three physicians you interviewed, especially the De. at UNC. There seem to be no links to those shows. Please post them, or tell me how to find the name of the physician.
Your show has become a must-listen as you’ve had increasingly serious researchers presenting the past couple of years. Even my doctor, one of the best in this Piedmont region of NC, has become a listener as I’ve shared information with her. Thank You for your important work. K. Dess

Very interesting and informative. I could listen to Dr. Matzinger all day. A great show, thank you!

Fantastic show, an excellent start to what seems to be a fantastic 3-part series. Dr. Polly Matzinger has an incredibly way with analogies — I was able to follow her “Danger” theory, it made perfect sense to me (I am a layperson). Very informative, and very helpful. Now — how do we get Coley’s Toxins on the list for clinical trials? Thanks!

As a caregiver for a woman who has used Coley’s Fluid successfully to date, I was glad to hear about the presentation of this series.
I’ve noted on two non-medical sites that I generally inhabit that my first impression of The People’s Pharmacy is that its coverage (of two topics I’ve heard, so far) transcends the boundaries between ‘alternative medicine’ and legitimate high quality medical research. I don’t know of any other place where such important information is available. It may be that traditional medicine and big pharmacy have painted themselves into a corner in pursuit of ‘big’ profits, and that, now, additional, responsible, even-tempered and competent researchers are willing to be heard. Thanks to this program, competent information is being made available to the general public. I will be sourcing earlier podcasts on additional subjects that interest me.
My partner was told to return home in August of 2007, enjoy the outdoors as long as possible – expected to be just a few months – and then seek hospice care. Instead she discovered (actually, rediscovered) MBVax and Coley’s Fluid. At that time, she had to go out of the U.S. to a Mexican clinic. She’d been there years earlier, so the logistics were familiar to her. It was expensive, though not because of Coley’s Fluid. When she returned, she continued Coley’s treatment at reasonable cost, this time. Within a few months, objective tests of her NHL tumors showed objective signs of shrinkage. Over the next year, her tumors shrunk to a small percentage of their original size. She’d had lymphoma for about 12-13 years when treatment with Coley’s began.
Her oncologist, who does not treat her with Coley’s, has recently told her that during the past two years, two new, advanced chemo therapies, not available in 2007 – 2009, are now available and are particularly effective for her cancer, if they are ever needed.
She and I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards Don MacAdam and MBVax for making Coley Fluid available.
I see in reviewing what I have written that it might appear like an ad for Don’s company. I hope that you will understand that my expression is heartfelt and personal, and at this moment, known only to myself.

I’d like to see a future interview with Dr. Ralph P. Moss of Cancer Decisions, and more discussions about some of the nutritional methods used to tackle the disease — like Hoxsey and Gerson. Everyone should see the remarkable documentary ‘The Beautiful Truth’ which explores these issues in an incredibly life-affirming way — and there is also a sequel called ‘Dying to Have Known.’ It is vital that this information be distributed to as many people as possible, to prevent more needless suffering and deaths.

With all these great comments I HAVE TO LISTEN to this–will comment more later–off to work.

I very much enjoyed Dr. Matzinger’s interview and explanations.
Thank you for an interesting programme.

What a compelling interview! Polly Matzinger is extraordinary. Anyone who can communicate complex topics with such great analogies ought to be in a classroom and not just a lab. If I had a teacher like her in biology or chemistry 40+ years ago, I might have understood the material and been in a different field today. I was fascinated and intensely engaged throughout the entire show.
Moreover…. Hats off to Terry and Joe for having the good sense to keep their questions to a minimum and their mouths shut so that Matzinger did all the talking.

Completely fascinating. Thanks for such a great show.

A fascinating address, particularly because we are a cancer survivor and caregiver.
Problem: I clicked on the additional comment line and got only a repeat of the program line.
How can I get the additional comments?

I agree with Dave R. Dr. Matzinger can explain things so we all get it! Wow!

Very interesting and informative. I could listen to Dr. Matzinger all day. A great show, thank you!

This was the most fascinating show I have heard and I hope to hear more from Dr. Matzinger. Is there anywhere that I can get more information about what she is doing.
Ross
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
Dear Ross,
We are awaiting a new publication from Polly. Once it has been released in a major scientific journal we will be interviewing her. Please be patient as it will take several months before the article makes it to print.

I love Dr. Matzinger and her delivery. I hope that she produces a series to go out to 6th graders and above.

Above posts are really informative.
Thanks to the posters

Congratulations, ANOTHER HOME RUN!
Along with vitamin D, probiotics, bacteriophage, foods that fight cancer, and now Fever Therapy, cancer is on the run. I don’t recall a show on Iodine, is that next?
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Sincerely,
Russ

I think what she meant was that the “foreigners” are the “bad guys” in our body because they do damage to us. Likewise, policemen chase the bad guys, who do damage to the society, not “foreigners”.

Write your opinion to the National Institutes for Health.
They control much of the research funding.

Well, this makes so much sense to me. Our bodies WANT to fight disease and they are very good at it. Stats about the actual saved lives due to chemotherapy and related therapies is not encouraging. Dr. Matzinger’s research is a real bright spot in research. How can we support it?

Dr Matzinger was fascinating. Please ask her back to discuss how her theory applies to auto-immune disorders!

Thanks for this program. I am a stage 4 melanoma survivor whose immune system appears to have eliminated the disease. I have done a lot of reading on the research in this area and am under care of a physician who does a lot of the research.
WT

What an amazing show! Dr. Coley is such a clear communicator. Would love it if you would follow this train of thinking.

What a fascinating topic! I like her style (approach). Her explanations are flawless and she has a very special gift. What would we do without PBS? Why doesn’t the media try to educate people instead of putting the fear into them with sensationalism. They are not meeting their responsibilities. The dumbing of America.
This is the first time I have listened to “Peoples’ Pharmacy.” I look forward to more shows.

This was definitely a “driveway moment” interview for me, refocussing from the mundane PC nonsense i was into to give undivided attention to this interview (the radio often drones in the background of subconsciousness).
Truly fascinating and engaging. As an analytical LC-MS chemist, i too struggle with making useful analogies to convey science to laypeople whose eyes glaze with things they don’t [wish to?] comprehend. Ms. Matzinger perceptively and intuiitively nails this. Dendritic cells as the Pacmen/sheepdogs of immune response. what a concept!! at any level 6th grade or otherwise. i wish her and colleagues in this arena well, for all to benefit.
regarding the allegation of a poor analogy (with the policeman): it’s just a metaphorical scaffold and no harm intended to that profession, i’m certain.
-PD

Your guest today Polly Matzinger was very interesting, I listen to your show every week on my way to work and today I didn’t want to get to work because she was so interesting and her delivery was so down to earth and she made so interesting. I found myself wanting to learn more of what she was explaining and I wanted to know if she has a book out or has written anything that I could read more about the immune system and her hew theory’s? I new she was very interesting because there wasn’t much interuption from Joe or Terry.

Enjoyed the program very much. I wish that I could read the transcript, not listen again. I have a son who has had a kidney transplant and would love to know about the transplant surgeon who is doing animal trials using a drug based on the “danger” principle.

Joe and Terry,
Your down to Earth and understandable show is something my wife and I listen to every week. We learn so much practical information from you and your guests and today was no exception. Dr. Matzinger did a wonderful job explaining her work. We wish her much success in pursuance of her theories. It was a nice touch to share a little on her personal life, too.

I enjoyed today’s program and want to hear the complete interview and read the transcript. I could find neither of these on your website.
People’s Pharmacy Response:
Please go to today’s radio show # 751. “Coley’s Toxin, Cancer and Immunology.”
Then click on the blue arrow to listen to the extended interview with Dr. Matzinger.

Best program among many great programs. My daughter is a post-doc in bio-research. I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing several women mad-scientists and have heard first hand accounts of the frustration that comes with it. Hopefully in the next 30 years they will all become overnight successes also.
I love Dr. Matzinger and her delivery. I hope that she produces a series to go out to 6th graders and above. It is beneficial to reach them before they become too educated to understand concepts.
It might be good for cynical barmaids also.
Dr. S. James Gates, Jr., lecturing about super string theory, once said that science does not seek truth, but rather less falsity. Dr. Matzinger illustrates that even though empirical results don’t change, our understanding of how to interpret them sometimes must.
A young man might joke, “What a beautiful woman. I sure would like to get into her mind.” An old man just says, “What a beautiful mind.”
Thanks for everything Joe and Terry. “What a beautiful set of minds.”

From the start when Dr. Matzinger told about the providential coincidence of her conversations in the bar, I was hooked. Her clear, articulate explanations, her use of lucid analogies, her references to global scientific networks brought tears of excitement to my eyes. Thank goodness we have people in the world who refuse to let others’ opinions keep them from pursuing their hunches. Great story. I sent it on.

Best show I’ve ever heard

What a poorly written synopsis of the interview with Dr. Matzinger. It completely missed the point of her work and trivialized her.

Fascinating guest! Her “sixth grade” explanations were excellent! I bet she is a real inspirational speaker and makes those sixth grade brain synapses sparkle when the children hear her!

I was interested in hearing how Dr. Matzinger’s danger theory for the immune system applies to allgery and autoimmune disease. Was there more to your interview that covered more on this topic, but edited out of the broadcast show?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
Yes…please listen to the extended interview on our Web site.

Loved today’s show; but do have a concern with the policeman analogy. Our police seek bad guys, not all “foreigners” etc. Don’t we want to be careful how we portray this profession ?

Polly Matzinger interview was the best, informative, compelling to listen to.

when I had uterine cancer I also had a large amount of inflammatory fluid in my uterus..I guess my body was trying to destroy the tumor. It made me aware of it’s presence and hastened the diagnosis.

One of the best shows you have done. The side note on how a former Playboy bunny got started into graduate school suggests that we are currently wasting much talent and should find ways to encourage more people to use their potential.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^