Immunoaugmentative therapy (IAT) is an unproven cancer treatment that involves injecting blood proteins from healthy human donors into a patient. Although this therapy has not been proven to be effective, proponents believe it helps restore the body's natural immune defenses against cancer.
IAT includes three different components taken from human blood: tumor necrosis factor, tumor complement factor, and de-blocking protein factor.
Immune cells release a chemical messenger called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) into the blood when cancer cells are detected in the body. The TNF then binds to the cancerous cell, causing changes in the cell that ultimately kill it. It has been suggested that injections containing TNF may increase the body's ability to destroy cancerous cells.
Tumor complement factor (TCF) has been shown to stimulate the production of proteins that help destroy cancer cells. Therefore, it has been suggested that injections containing TCF may help increase the immune system's response to cancerous cells.
The third component in IAT is called de-blocking protein factor (DPF). It has been suggested that these proteins remove another protein, called blocking protein factor, from the blood. It has been suggested that the blocking protein factor prevents the immune system from detecting cancer allowing the cancer to grow in the body. Therefore, proponents of IAT believe that injections containing DPF may increase the body's ability to detect cancerous cells in the body. However, there is debate over whether or not DPF and blocking protein factor even exist. Scientific studies have not proven the existence of these proteins.
It is unclear whether or not IAT is an effective treatment for cancer patients. There is currently no scientific evidence that IAT can cure cancer or prolong the lives of cancer patients. Based on anecdotal reports, proponents support the use IAT as a long-term cancer treatment of daily injections. It is not promoted as a cure for cancer. Instead, it is suggested to work the same way insulin works for diabetics. Proponents believe that patients may live longer lives if they regularly receive IAT injections.
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1950s: A zoologist named Lawrence Burton developed the theory of immunoaugmentative therapy (IAT) in the 1950s. Burton claimed that IAT caused cancer to go into remission in mice. However, the results of his studies were questioned and other scientists were unable to produce the same results.
1973: Burton established the Immunology Research Foundation in New York and began offering IAT to cancer patients in 1973.
1974: In 1974, Burton submitted an investigation new drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to start human trials with IAT. However, he withdrew his application after the FDA asked for his experimental evidence.
1977: In 1977, Burton closed the New York clinic and opened the Immunology Researching Centre (IRC) in the Bahamas.
1978: In 1978,representatives of the Bahamian Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization visited Burton's clinic and reviewed the medical charts of several patients. The health officials concluded that there was no evidence that IAT was a beneficial treatment for cancer patients. The clinic remained open even though the health officials recommended that it be shut down.
Late 1970s/early 1980s: During the late 1970s and early 1980s, officials from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the United States asked to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of IAT. However, an agreement could not be made between Burton and the NCI. Burton never explained his technique for isolating the blood proteins, which he had patented.
1985: In 1985, Bahamian health authorities closed Burton's clinic because several of his patients developed serious infections, including hepatitis B and HIV. Health officials suspected that the infections were the result of contaminated blood used during IAT. However, the clinic re-opened in less than one year.
1986: The FDA banned the import of IAT drugs in 1986 because the agency was concerned that the products were contaminated with infectious diseases, including hepatitis B and HIV.
The U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) worked with Burton to develop procedures for a study of IAT in colon cancer patients. However, the research did not produce any reliable data on the effectiveness of IAT.
2003: In April 2003, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) issued a report on IAT. Using criteria developed by the NCI, the agency evaluated nine cancer patients that were treated with IAT. The patients had different type of cancers, which included Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-small cell carcinoma of the lung, nodular lymphoma, peritoneal mesothelioma, ovarian adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the vocal cords, and adenocarcinoma of the colon. The agency could not come to a clear conclusion about the effectiveness of IAT. The agency recommended further studies.
2007: There is currently no evidence on the safety or effectiveness of IAT. Proponents of IAT claim that the therapy can reduce or stop the spread of many cancers. Proponents also believe that IAT may increase life expectancy and quality of life in cancer patients.
Immunoaugmentative therapy (IAT) has been used to treat various types of cancer. Treatment is only available at IAT centers, which have been established in locations including the Bahamas, Germany, and Mexico. Patients can only receive immunoaugmentative therapy (IAT) if they have been diagnosed with cancer. Then, the patient is screened to determine whether or not IAT is appropriate for his/her specific condition. Healthcare providers will take into consideration the type and severity of the cancer, as well as the patient's overall health. IAT appears to be more effective in patients who have not received chemotherapy (a cancer treatment).
During therapy, patients may receive anywhere from one to 12 injections a day. In general, treatment generally lasts about 10-12 weeks. Patients typically return to the clinic for about two weeks, every four to six months. A healthcare provider measures the patient's response to treatment throughout IAT.