Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT)
WHAT IS IPT?
Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT) is a therapeutic procedure which utilizes low doses of conventional chemotherapeutic agents on a more frequent schedule to reduce or eliminate the toxic side effects of the drugs. It maintains the effectiveness of the drug by potentiating its anti-cancer activity with the use of insulin. A historical and theoretical discussion of IPT and how it works is covered below.
The major limitation of chemotherapy is its extreme toxic effect on all bodily functions, particularly the blood, digestive and immune systems. It comes down to whether we can kill the cancer without killing the patient. Lowering the overall toxicity of the drug while continuing to kill the cancer cells is the primary goal of IPT. Patients who do not become nauseous and whose digestive system continues to function have better nutrition and lose less weight while undergoing treatment. Keeping a higher red blood cell count contributes to better health, especially for those patients with respiratory complications. Maintaining a functioning immune system helps fight off infectious diseases. However, this can become a problem following conventional chemotherapy.
Often overlooked is a major potential of IPT and its most important advantage – the ability to aggressively pursue immune therapy while simultaneously using chemotherapy, a combined treatment which is usually not possible with the standard high-dose chemotherapy approach. Immune therapy is frequently ignored because chemotherapy is considered the first line of treatment; the result is a highly suppressed immune system which consequently cannot respond to drugs which address the body’s immune function. Immune treatments can be effective when given before chemotherapy. IPT allows this dual treatment approach - front line therapy and immune therapy. Thus, cancer vaccines, cytokine stimulation, immune modulators and biologicals, as well as other immune stimulants can be employed.
The Immune Recovery Centers find that IPT fits well with the complementary, immune and natural treatments we use here. Effective cancer therapy requires a simultaneous multi-pronged attack on the cancer. Unfortunately, time is never on the patient’s side, and waiting to see if one treatment will work before initiating a second treatment type is not in the patient’s best interest. Single therapy approaches provide valuable information for research, but patients are more concerned with killing the cancer than with which agent has worked best.
Generally ignored is recent research indicating immune therapy sensitizes the cancer to chemotherapy, meaning it renders chemotherapy more effective. In addition, we have determined that immune therapy, cytokines and vaccines have a “wake-up” effect on the cancer cells, causing them to act in order to protect themselves from an outside attack. Only “active” cells are sensitive to chemotherapy.
A HISTORICAL AND THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE
Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT) is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Low Dose Chemotherapy. It is a controversial cancer treatment procedure originally practiced by Dr. Donato Perez Garcia and has been continued by his son, Dr. D. Perez Garcia Bellon. However, IPT must be distinguished from those procedures that employ lower doses of chemotherapy on a daily basis and do not use insulin as part of the treatment. There is disagreement whether low dose chemotherapy is overall more effective than high dose chemotherapy, but the use of insulin with low dose chemotherapy is considered to be more effective.
Low Dose Chemotherapy
The primary thrust of low dose chemotherapy is to reduce the incidence and severity of the harsh side effects of chemotherapy. Critics worry that the long term effect may lead to an early resistance of the cancer to the chemotherapy agent. Resistance usually always occurs in conventional high dose chemotherapy, so the argument is really which treatment will kill proportionally more cancer cells and how much more time will the patient gain before the drug becomes ineffective. Can the low dose approach result in a remission of the cancer and how long will it last? A critical question should also be what is the patient’s quality of life during the time gained by both of these approaches?
Research on the low dose regimen is in progress and has sufficient financial backing to provide some answers to these questions. The use of this treatment regimen in early stage cancer patients will determine the true effectiveness of this approach.
Insulin Potentiation Therapy
IPT has been around since the 1930s. Its use has been criticized because (1) it does not have a mechanism of action acceptable to current scientific dogma, (2) it does not have comparative clinical studies to support its claims, and (3) it was not invented in the US. Let us address these three criticisms.
- The original theory in simplified form is as follows:
“Cancer cells have high metabolic rates because they are growing, and cancer cells can only use glucose as an energy source. Thus, cancer cells have more insulin receptors on the cell surface and will have a more intense reaction to insulin than normal cells. Therefore, if the patient is given insulin, the blood glucose level will go down and the cancer cells will momentarily be starved for glucose. If both glucose and a chemotherapy drug are given while the cells are starved for glucose the cancer cell membranes will open for glucose and more of the chemotherapeutic agent will also enter the cell. Under these conditions a lower dose of chemotherapy will be as effective as a high dose.”
This mechanism does not fit with current knowledge, so if the explanation does not work, why consider IPT? Because IPT works. Therefore, we need a new interpretation to satisfy those who are more interested in theory than in actual results. There is a simple explanation which does fit with much what we know about chemotherapy. Chemotherapy only kills active cells, the more active the cell the more toxic the drug. The most rapidly growing normal systems in the body are also the most sensitive - blood, digestive and immune. All cells are activated by insulin, at least for a short time. Since cancer cells have more insulin receptors, they are more strongly affected and thus the chemotherapy drug is much more toxic than it would be to normal cells.
- There are no comparative studies between IPT and the same chemotherapy drug alone (high dose). The cost of the study would be excessive and no agency will foot the bill. Pharmaceutical companies are not interested. The medical establishment is only interested in FDA approved drugs given exactly as the FDA approved label states. Some medical schools are studying IPT. This may create more interest when they are completed, but these studies will take several years. In the meantime patients have no government, FDA or AMA guidelines to follow.
- There is a bias in favor of US medical discoveries, and those from certain European countries. Mexico is down on the list of “acceptable” countries for medical discoveries. Had IPT come from Canada it would be established today. Japan has provided critical development with cancer vaccines and important discoveries in cancer immunology have come from Italy.
The Immune Recovery Centers have extensively reviewed the information on low dose chemotherapy and insulin. We believe that IPT, as it is currently used, is an effective alternative to high dose chemotherapy. We agree that data supporting IPT is not available, namely the kind of data the scientific community desires. However, there are also no data to reject IPT outright. We have examined the current procedures of Dr. Donato Perez Garcia Bellon and find they have the potential to become an accepted treatment option. We also believe that incorporating IPT and immune therapy in a protocol individualized for each patient has much promise.
The Immune Recovery Centers of America are interested in the low dose chemotherapy approach, because it offers less immune damage than the high dose treatment. It also allows a simultaneous treatment with chemotherapy and immune therapy. Theoretically, low dose chemotherapy combined with immune therapy makes sense. IPT combines the low dose approach with the additional activity of insulin.
IPT should be most effective if given in the initial treatment of cancer, and not after all other options have been tried. Today’s standard regulatory approach is to try new therapies last, after other treatment options have failed. At that time, unfortunately, the most effective chemotherapeutic agents to fight a particular cancer will have failed, and, therefore, there would be no reason to believe that IPT would now render these agents active once more. Thus, any such study of IPT under present guidelines would be biased against IPT. This is also true for immune therapy, where the guidelines dictate that immune therapy is tried last, after chemotherapy and radiation have totally destroyed the immune system. Any study conducted of either approach under the conventional guidelines is guaranteed to fail.
Many patients will opt for IPT after having exhausted all conventional options, although they might not be the ideal candidates for this treatment procedure. However, there is evidence that immune therapy can sensitize some cancers to chemotherapy. There are studies which indicate that some natural products act in concert with some chemotherapy drugs (resveratrol and etoposide). Therefore, these treatment combinations may aid even those patients, who did not initially respond to chemotherapy.
We strongly believe that any procedure for chemotherapy which avoids immune damage should be utilized. A concerted attack on cancer cells from several approaches offers more promise of success. We feel that the potential of immune therapy as a first stage treatment of cancer is essentially being ignored by the medical community. The combination of immune therapy and IPT deserves careful consideration.