Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Nov 2012

Innovative Laser Therapy Offers New Hope for Breast Cancer Patients

In a human clinical research trial supported by Life Extension®, scientists are testing an innovative, laser-assisted immune therapy against advanced breast cancer. This sophisticated technique not only destroys primary tumors but also appears to act as a cancer vaccine, preventing recurrences. Results so far are encouraging.

By Logan Bromwell.

Preamble
Innovative Laser Therapy Offers New Hope for Breast Cancer Patients

If you wonder what results are occurring with the millions of dollars that Life Extension® donates to cancer research, this article provides a real world report of a successful clinical trial conducted outside the United States.

 

We are still losing the war on cancer.1

While the establishment brags that more cancer patients survive than ever before, the horrific side effects inflicted by conventional therapy often leave patients partially or severely debilitated, and set the stage for deadly secondary diseases.

Over 570,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer this year.2 For those people, the dangerous mix of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery not only failed to cure the cancer, but destroyed their remaining quality of life. Meanwhile, many promising therapeutic techniques languish in laboratories and private clinics, quashed by excessive FDA regulations and greedy pharmaceutical giants eager to protect their own lucrative turf.

But all of that may be about to change, thanks to pioneering work on breast cancer from a progressive clinic outside the US. There, a group of physicians and scientists have teamed up in a study that's the first of its kind: a human clinical trial using a sophisticated form of laser/immune therapy to treat advanced breast cancer.3

The technique is called laser-assisted immunotherapy.

This laser treatment has the potential to destroy primary breast tumors. This unique treatment can also seek and destroy cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) from the original tumor to other parts of the body. This is especially critical as metastasized cells are the primary cause of cancer death.

In addition to being a potentially effective cancer treatment, laser-assisted immunotherapy appears to be able to act as a cancer vaccine, effectively preventing the same cancer from recurring.

This innovative procedure may be the life-saving therapy that cancer patients have been waiting for.

Laser-Assisted Immunotherapy: An Innovative Approach to Treating Advanced Cancers

Laser-Assisted Immunotherapy: An Innovative Approach to Treating Advanced Cancers

An ideal approach to treating advanced cancers would accomplish two things:

1. Eliminate the original tumor.

2. Empower the immune system to destroy the cancer cells. Then, instead of having to locate and treat every infiltrated lymph node and every hidden metastasis, the body's natural tumor surveillance system would do its work, root out the cancer, and prevent recurrence.

This is the central principle behind laser-assisted immunotherapy.4,5

Laser-assisted immunotherapy involves no surgery, chemotherapy, or dangerous radiation. Instead, the technique uses a precise laser beam to destroy the primary tumor, and then delivers a powerful boost to the immune system's natural cancer defense systems.4 In this way, the entire immune system joins the fight against an individual's own specific cancer.6

Laser-assisted immunotherapy includes the following three components:

1. A laser beam operating in the "near-infrared" frequency of light.7 This beam heats tissue to a depth of several centimeters, allowing the beam to penetrate directly into a solid tumor with minimal damage to normal tissue.8 Because it can be focused directly through intact skin, no surgical incision is required. These lasers have been in use in cancer therapy for more than 20 years.9 On their own, however, they can't safely raise the temperature of tumor cells without damaging adjacent healthy tissue.9,10 That requires the use of a second component…

2. A photosensitizer, a chemical that makes cancer cells more vulnerable to destruction by the laser without the unacceptable heating of nearby normal cells.6 The technique was proven in pre-clinical studies with the use of a compound called indocyanin green (ICG) as the photosensitizer. Like the laser, ICG is safe for clinical applications and is FDA approved. The combination of the laser and photosensitizer leads to localized destruction of tumor cells. However, these two components alone may not be effective at completely ridding the body of cancer because they cannot attack distant, often hidden tumor metastases.11 To kill those, one more crucial component is required…

3. An immune system booster12, or "adjuvant," that activates the cancer patient's natural cancer-attacking killer cells.7 Growing tumors have multiple ways of evading the immune system, effectively concealing their abnormal nature from circulating immune surveillance cells. Once the tumor is partially broken up by the laser, however, the injection of the adjuvant then calls the immune system's attention to the newly revealed tumor markers.8,13 Circulating immune cells can then begin killing malignant cells anywhere they have spread in the body.14 This immune booster may soon be submitted to FDA for approval and those involved in submitting the New Drug Application have asked that we not disclose its name in print.

Cancer Cell
Cancer Cell

The key aspect of this approach is that the stimulated immune system attacks not only the primary tumor, but also metastases located anywhere in the body.4,6,15 Because those metastases often bear the same abnormal signal proteins as the primary tumor, they now essentially have a mark on their back for the body's natural defense mechanism to seek out and destroy—no matter where they've moved to in the body.

As an added bonus, the immune system "remembers" the identifying markers of the cancer and continuously maintains surveillance to prevent future recurrence.16 In essence, laser-assisted immunotherapy creates a tiny "vaccine factory" within the victim's body that throws the entire immune system's resources at precisely that person's own tumor (see Sidebar at the end of this article for more on this topic).14

 
What You Need to Know
Advanced Breast Cancer Treatment: Hope Is On The Horizon
Breast Cancer
Mammography

Advanced Breast Cancer Treatment: Hope Is On The Horizon

  • Laser-assisted immunotherapy offers exciting possibilities in the war on cancer. This type of laser therapy has the unique ability to destroy both an advanced primary tumor and life-threatening metastases.
  • Laser-assisted immunotherapy appears to be able to act as a cancer vaccine, effectively preventing the same cancer from recurring.
  • Laser-assisted immunotherapy involves no surgery, chemotherapy, or dangerous radiation. Instead, the technique uses a precise laser beam to destroy the primary tumor, and then delivers a powerful boost to the immune system's natural cancer defense systems.4
  • The results of the first human study are encouraging. Among all 15 subjects in the study, 80% remain alive today. Compare that with the typical survival rate in the United States for women with such advanced breast cancer, which is only 23.8% at 5 years.17

Lab Studies Provide Dramatic Results

Laser-assisted immunotherapy has received compelling validation in the laboratory. When rats with experimentally induced breast cancer were subjected to the treatment, they experienced marked increases in survival rates.11 In addition, researchers have documented the eradication of both primary tumors and metastases.11,16 Most importantly, successfully treated rats have proven to be resistant to developing new tumors—even when cancer cells were directly injected into the animals' bodies.4,11

For the pre-clinical experiments, rats were injected with breast cancer cells, which formed localized primary tumors.3,4 After 11 days, the animals were treated with the laser therapy with the indocyanin green or laser therapy with indocyanin green and the immune booster described above.

In the group of untreated animals, the primary tumors grew rapidly within the first month, and all animals died by 40 days. The treated animals, on the other hand, had only modest growth of the primary tumor, which then proceeded to shrink in size—and 38% of the animals survived until the end of the study at 120 days (Figures 1 and 2).4 Only animals administered the three-prong combination achieved long-term survival. In other words, the 38% of the animals that survived until the end of the study all received the full laser-assisted immunotherapy that included indocyanin green and the immune enhancement adjuvant.

The most dramatic result—and the one with the greatest potential impact for people with breast cancer—was the effect on metastases. The untreated animals developed multiple metastases in the groin (inguinal) and armpit (axillary) areas.3,4 In the treated group, however, the metastases were completely destroyed within 40 days (Figure 3).

Human Breast Cancer Study Results: 80% Survival Rate for Stage IV Cancer

Energized by the striking results from the animal studies, researchers decided to bring the benefits of laser-assisted immunotherapy to women with breast cancer. This malignancy is expected to cause over 290,000 new cases this year in the US and affects millions of women who battle with recurrence and remissions.2 It is a significant cause of death, disfigurement, and disability.

Figure 1 Survival of Rats with Breast Cancer

After injection with breast cancer cells on day zero, untreated animals begin dying by day 30, and all are dead by day 40. But tumor-bearing animals treated with laser-assisted immunotherapy survived much longer and many were still alive by the end of the study.4

Figure 2 Size of Primary Breast Cancer

In an untreated animal, death occurred on day 32, following rapid growth of the primary breast cancer. The primary tumor grew much more slowly in a treated animal, peaked at about 30 days, and then gradually disappeared, becoming undetectable by day 65.4

The researchers were determined to evaluate the laser-assisted immunotherapy as soon as possible. Frustrated with the corrupt, inefficient, and time-consuming ways of the FDA—the all-powerful agency that regulates such research in the US—they chose a highly regarded private clinic in the Caribbean as the venue for their study.3

Because of the technique's unique ability to destroy both an advanced primary tumor and life-threatening metastases, the researchers decided to treat women with breast cancers that had already spread to the lymph nodes or to other parts of the body. Although the study was opened to 45 women, the following is a preliminary report on the first 15 subjects enrolled.

The study protocol was similar to that used in the animal studies described above. Subjects received two courses of treatment over two weeks, and were followed for one year. If needed, an additional course of treatment was available.

After a physical examination and blood testing, the women received an injection of a local anesthetic in the area of the primary breast cancer, followed by injection of the photosensitizing agent (indocyanin green) into the tumor. Next, the near-infrared laser was applied to the area in and around the tumor. During this phase, the laser destroyed cells in the primary superficial tumor, while exposing their biological markers to the subject's immune system.

After 10 to 12 minutes of laser therapy, the immune-boosting material was injected around and underneath the tumor. In this phase of the treatment, the subject's own immune system cells were drawn to the tumor area to attack the primary breast tumor, as well as the malignant cells in lymph nodes and metastases in other parts of the subject's body.

The results from this early study are encouraging, particularly in light of established rates of survival. Among all 15 subjects in the study, 80% remain alive today. Compare that with the typical survival rate in the United States for women with such advanced breast cancer, which is only 23.8% at 5 years.17 (This study is so new that no woman has yet reached the 5-year milestone.)

At the time of this writing, the women in the laser-assisted immunotherapy study had an average survival of more than 29 months after treatment, and still counting. Results of conventional chemotherapeutic or anti-hormone breast cancer treatment aren't nearly as encouraging. One study reported an average survival of just 15.4 months,18 another small study reported survival up to 23.1 months, but had no survivors by 3 years.19

Tales of Courage and Survival

Of course, compelling as they might be, numbers tell only a portion of any story about human health and longevity. The real picture of the treatment's potential comes from the real-life stories of the women who participated in this study. Here are just a few of those stories.

A 66-year-old woman enrolled in the study in August 2008, after having only a modest response to eight cycles of conventional chemotherapy. At the time of her enrollment, her disease had progressed to stage IV, with at least one metastasis as diagnosed with a PET/CT scan. She received one full laser-assisted immunotherapy treatment in December 2008. A follow-up PET/CT scan showed disappearance of the primary tumor, and no new metastases or lymph node involvement.

Figure 3 Size of Breast Cancer Metastases

Left Microscopic Image of Breast Carcinoma.

Right Metastatic tumors in an untreated animal rapidly grew in size, culminating in the animal’s death on day 30. By contrast, those in the treated animal grew modestly, peaked at about day 32, and then rapidly regressed. No metastases were detected after day 40 in the treated animal, which survived to the end of the study.4

One year and nine months after the treatment, this patient received the following mammography report: "The result of your breast imaging exam shows no evidence of cancer."

She remains disease-free at more than 3 years and 4 months following treatment.

A 78 year-old woman with stage IV breast cancer, who had received no conventional treatment, enrolled in the study in January 2009. After undergoing the laser-assisted immunotherapy, a follow-up PET/CT scan revealed no visible cancer and no metastases. She did experience a brief recurrence of the tumor, but that condition resolved without further therapy.

More than 3 years later, she too remains disease-free.

Important Facts about Breast Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute:

  • There are more than 2.75 million living women with a history of breast cancer, including those with active disease and those who have been cured.24
  • One in eight women (12.38%) born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lives.25
  • 5.72% of women will develop cancer of the breast between their 50th and 70th birthdays.25
  • The median age at diagnosis for breast cancer is 61 years old (Figure 4).26
  • The median age of dying from breast cancer is 68 years old (Figure 4).26
  • Overall 5-year survival for women with breast cancer is 90.3%. For those with cancer that has metastasized (stage IV), however, just 23.8% (or fewer) remain alive 5 years after their diagnosis.27
  • There has been a fluctuating trend in breast cancer incidence since 1975 (Figure 5).

Two women with earlier stage cancers (stage II) entered the study in 2009; one had received some conventional therapy while the other had none. Following laser-assisted immunotherapy, both subjects remain alive and disease-free today.

These cases show the great potential of laser-assisted immunotherapy in treating breast cancer. No therapy is perfect, however, and it's important to note that not all of the women in the study experienced the same results as the ones mentioned above.

For example, a 65-year-old woman with stage IV breast cancer enrolled in the study in August 2008, after a number of failures of conventional therapy. She did experience some tumor recurrence requiring surgery 15 months after her initial laser treatment, but survived until 3 years and 3 months after the start of the study. The experimental treatment may have prolonged her life, but there is no way to be certain.

Figure 4 Ages at Diagnosis and Death from Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can occur as early as the late 20s, but diagnoses peak by about age 60 (blue bars). Rates of death from breast cancer rise sharply between early middle age, and remain high well into advanced years (red bars).26

Figure 5 Trend in Breast Cancer Deaths

Rates of death from breast cancer have fluctuated since the mid-1970s. Points above the zero line indicate periods of increased death rates; points below the line indicate periods of declining death rates.26

Summary

Laser-assisted immunotherapy is a promising new weapon in the war on cancer. The results of this study so far show 80% of the participants still alive today compared to the typical 5-year survival rate in the US of only 23.8% for advanced breast cancer. Providing a non-toxic therapy that supports and stimulates rather than destroys the body's best defense arsenal, the immune system, is a monumental gain against the tenacious and formidable opponent known as cancer.

Of particular significance is the lack of serious side effects caused by laser-assisted immunotherapy. Even lumpectomies can result in significant mutilation to the affected breast, while follow-up radiation, chemotherapy and hormone-blocking agents result in debilitating initial side effects and deadly long-term toxicities.

For example, in a report released last month that studied 12,000 breast cancer survivors, there was a 470% increased risk of developing heart failure in the group receiving chemotherapy compared to breast cancer patients who did not undergo chemotherapy.20 The cancer establishment considers those treated with chemotherapy to be successes if they survive the cancer, but conveniently ignores the fact that the treatment causes heart failure.

The objective of laser-assisted immunotherapy is to eradicate the primary tumor along with metastatic lesions without inflicting the side effects associated with conventional breast cancer treatment.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

Creating a Customized Cancer Vaccine

Developing an effective anti-cancer vaccine has been the goal of oncology for decades.21,22 The idea is to identify one or several markers, or antigens, borne only by tumor cells, for use in the manufacture of a vaccine. In theory, such a vaccine could eliminate cancer once and for all.22 The vaccine could even be beneficial for those with existing cancers, as the vaccine could expedite destruction of the existing tumor by activating the immune system.

However, like most attempts at a “one-size-fitsall” strategy, this approach has flaws that limit its appeal. Often what appears to be a single tumor actually contains multiple different cell lines, each bearing a unique marker, and each affecting patient survival differently.23 A cancer vaccine prepared in a laboratory therefore has essentially zero chance of raising an immune response to every cell type in any one person’s tumor, allowing a few to survive and produce cancer recurrences.

This situation is quite similar to the well-known annual quandary of flu vaccine manufacturers. Based on the best available information about the previous year’s flu virus, they must make an educated guess about which specific viral components to include in the upcoming year’s vaccine (e.g., H1N1, H5N1, etc). Most years they are successful, but occasionally a virus appears for which we are entirely unprotected.

Laser-assisted immunotherapy eliminates this kind of guesswork. That’s because the “vaccine” is manufactured within each individual person’s body, in response to their own unique tumor markers. This customized vaccine can then direct all of the immune system’s powerful resources to eliminating the existing cancer, at the same time producing persistent immunity against future recurrences.14

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Breast Cancer Chemopreventive Nutrients 1 Breast Cancer Chemopreventive Nutrients 2

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Greg's CR Way™ Benchmarks Panel

Motivating observations from Greg: "The positive effects of the less easily quantifiable results interests me most, e.g., mood status, libido, energy, stress management, for example. In addition, I keep waking up earlier than usual. In my "pre-CR" life this would be due to stress. Now it results from increased energy. I am sure my memory has improved as I seem able to recall and quote scientific papers, telephone numbers, names, and the like. At 46, I expected my eyesight to slowly deteriorate but it has actually IMPROVED! All these benefits cannot be coincidences."

Greg is a highly motivated, accomplished individual in his personal life. Seeing him carry that into his CR practice—achieving a great deal in a short time—is wonderful. We imagine that he will enjoy even more benefits in the years to come, amazing his friends and family with his youthful life as the years roll by.

These successes can forecast yours. The CR Way™ is about practicing calorie restriction "as you like it." It encourages molding proven CR science to individual needs.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

Notes:

* Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure that relates one's weight to height: The normal range starts at 18.5; overweight at 25; and obesity at 30.

To learn more about the CR Way™ or the CR Society International, visit www.LivingTheCRWay.com or www.CRSociety.org.


References

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