Helen Coley Nauts Monographs

Let's spread the word about Immunotherapy! Click to share this page with your community.

In 1953, in New York City, Helen Coley Nauts—the daughter of cancer immunotherapy pioneer Dr. William B. Coley—founded the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), and in Stockholm, the first installment of Nauts’ momentous monograph series was printed.

Today, we are in the midst of a revolution in cancer care, thanks to decades of research by CRI scientists. But during and after Dr. Coley’s lifetime, the mainstream medical establishment largely wrote off his bacteria-based immunotherapy approach, known as Coley’s toxins. It was his daughter Helen, with no scientific or medical training, who kept alive the flame of cancer immunotherapy.

She compiled information on more than 1,000 people with cancer who were treated with her father’s approach, as well as another 450 who had natural bacterial infections, and worked tirelessly to follow up with them and their doctors as much as possible. By looking at all the cases, when it worked as well as when it didn’t, she sought to identify what factors might make it more successful. What she learned—above all, that in many instances these early immunotherapies led to long-lasting benefits against cancer—she published in this monograph series.

According to Dr. Lloyd J. Old—the father of modern tumor immunology and the founding scientific and medical director of CRI—these “works of high scholarship” are “invaluable encyclopedias of knowledge that record the world’s literature on the subject from antiquity.”

Here, we present them publicly for the first time for their historical and scientific significance.



Memo from Kidgie M. Williams, Assistant to the Founder
RE: Manuscripts/Monographs/Papers/Speeches by Helen Coley Nauts, Founder, CRI
Date: February 16, 2001

Two points about Helen’s work in general that should be stressed and applied both to her published and unpublished material:

  1. In the early years, without a medical degree/title, Helen C. Nauts could not get her work published. And, as the New York Cancer Research Institute’s board was not yet fully established, it was felt wisest to publish the monographs by physicians, although she actually wrote or edited them all (with the exception of Monograph #19, authored in consultation with Helen by Stephan Maurer and Klaus F. Kölmel). They were printed under the following names, either alone or in combination:

George A. Fowler, M.D.
Theodore N. Miller, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Jess T. Nicholson, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Louis Pelner, M.D.

  1. Helen told me many times that from the 1890s through mid-1930s, when her father, William B. Coley, M.D., wrote about his toxins there were “maybe a total of 40 words or so, including conjunctions and articles,” that were available to describe his work. This explains the duplication and/or similarity in the titles of his papers. It was later on, in the mid-twentieth century or so, as the field grew and expanded, that additional words came into play and were incorporated by Helen in her papers. However, essentially the same problem existed for her, as it did in her father’s time, which explains the use and reuse of certain titles.


A review of the influence of bacterial infection and of bacterial products (Coley’s Toxins) on malignant tumors in man (1953)

Helen Coley Nauts; George A. Fowler, M.D.; and Frances H. Bogatko, M.D., F.A.C.S.

In 1953, the same year CRI was founded, Nauts, along with George A. Fowler, M.D., and Frances H. Bogatko, M.D., first re-examined the impact of Coley’s toxins on a few dozen cases of inoperable cancers. They also reviewed cases in which patients with cancer were also afflicted by natural infections. They found many who experienced long-lasting and, in some cases, lifetime remissions, thanks to Coley’s novel bacteria-based approach.


Effects of concurrent infections and their toxins on the course of leukemia

Helen Coley Nauts; Louis Pelner, M.D.; and George A. Fowler, M.D.

In this second monograph, Nauts, Pelner, and Fowler examined a number of cases in which patients with leukemia became spontaneously infected by bacteria and subsequently experienced regression and remission of their cancers. They note that some of the failures might be due to inconsistent preparation and insufficient administration. Additionally, they recommend the use of bacteria-based therapies prior to radiation therapy (and avoiding large doses of radiation) in order to prevent suppression of the immune system.


Sarcoma of the soft tissues, other than lymphosarcoma, treated by toxin therapy

Helen Coley Nauts; Louis Pelner, M.D.; George A. Fowler, M.D.

In this third monograph, Nauts, Pelner, and Fowler explored a number of cases in which patients with soft tissue sarcomas were treated with Coley’s toxins. They examined factors that appeared to influence outcomes, including stage of disease when therapy started, prior treatment with radiation, duration and frequency of therapy, and where the therapy was injected.


Giant cell tumor of bone: End results following immunotherapy (Coley Toxins) alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation—66 cases and concurrent infection—4 cases

Helen Coley Nauts

In this fourth monograph, Nauts looked at 66 cases of giant cell tumors of the bone that were treated with Coley’s toxins either alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation.


Host resistance to cancer review of the early and recent literature

Helen Coley Nauts (Editor)

In this fifth monograph, Nauts reviewed a variety of topics, including: the body’s defense mechanisms against cancer and spontaneous regressions, the role of inflammation in host resistance to cancer and in cancer patients, how various factors affect immune responsiveness, and the impact of carcinogens, immunosuppressive, and chemotherapy agents.


End results in lymphosarcoma treated by toxin therapy alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation or with concurrent bacterial infection

Helen Coley Nauts and George A. Fowler, M.D.

In this sixth monograph, Nauts and Fowler covered cases of lymphoma (referred to then as lymphosarcoma) that were treated with Coley’s toxins alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation.


Testicular cancer treated by bacterial toxin therapy as a means of enhancing host resistance

Helen Coley Nauts and George A. Fowler, M.D.

In this seventh monograph, Nauts highlighted the use of Coley’s toxins in testicular cancer and how they might complement surgery and radiation, and touched on factors associated with success.


The beneficial effects of bacterial infections on host resistance to cancer end results in 449 cases

Helen Coley Nauts

In this eighth monograph, Nauts reviewed the role of bacteria and other microscopic agents, especially viruses, against cancer. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of the newly discovered interferon pathway. Decades later, Robert D. Schreiber, Ph.D., an associate director of the CRI Scientific Advisory Council, deciphered how this pathway works and revealed important insights into its immunotherapy-related activity.


Enhancement of natural resistance to malignant melanoma with special reference to the beneficial effects of concurrent infections and bacterial toxin therapy

Helen Coley Nauts and George A. Fowler, M.D.

In this ninth monograph, Nauts and Fowler discussed the impact of Coley’s toxins, as well as natural infections, on melanoma, including in combination with surgery and radiation.


Beneficial effects of acute bacterial infections or bacterial toxin therapy on cancer of the colon or rectum

Helen Coley Nauts and George A. Fowler, M.D., FACS

In this tenth monograph, Nauts and Fowler discussed the impact of Coley’s Toxins, as well as natural infections, on colorectal cancer, including in combination with surgery and radiation.


The apparently beneficial effects of concurrent infections, inflammation, or fever and of bacterial toxin therapy on neuroblastoma

George A. Fowler, M.D., and Helen Coley Nauts

In this eleventh monograph, Nauts and Fowler discussed the impact of Coley’s toxins, as well as natural infections, on neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that affects the nervous system.


Enhancement of natural resistance to renal cancer beneficial effects of concurrent infections and immunotherapy with bacterial vaccines

Helen Coley Nauts

In this twelfth monograph, Nauts provides an overview of various treatment options for kidney cancer, including one case where the use of Coley’s toxins was associated with a 59-year remission in an 18-month-old boy with Wilms tumor who grew up to become the governor of his state before succumbing to other diseases.


Multiple myeloma: Beneficial effects of acute infections or immunotherapy (bacterial vaccines)

Helen Coley Nauts

In this thirteenth monograph, Nauts discussed the impact of Coley’s toxins, as well as natural infections, on multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects B cells. She noted that some patients who weren’t treated until their disease state was grave still experienced some significant remissions, and that pain relief was reported in almost every case.


Ewing's sarcoma of bone: End results following immunotherapy (bacterial toxins) combined with surgery and/or radiation

Helen Coley Nauts

In this fourteenth monograph, Nauts discussed the impact of Coley’s toxins, and how they might complement surgery and radiation, in Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer of the bone named after Dr. James Ewing, a longtime colleague of Coley’s at Memorial Hospital who was also one of his harshest critics.


Osteogenic sarcoma: End results following immunotherapy with bacterial vaccines

Helen Coley Nauts

In this fifteenth monograph, Nauts discussed the impact of Coley’s toxins, and natural infections, in osteogenic sarcoma. Of note, she suggested that the use of this therapy both before and after surgical removal of primary tumors could drastically reduce metastases to the lung as well as stimulate wound healing and increased bone regeneration.


Beneficial effects of immunotherapy (bacterial toxins) on sarcoma of the soft tissues, other than lymphosarcoma

Helen Coley Nauts

In this sixteenth monograph, Nauts provided an update to some of the cases first presented in the third monograph, which focused on the benefits of using of Coley’s toxins in soft tissue sarcomas.


Beneficial effects of acute concurrent infection, inflammation, fever, or immunotherapy (bacterial toxins) on ovarian and uterine cancer

Helen Coley Nauts

In this seventeenth monograph, Nauts discussed the benefits of Coley’s toxins, and natural inflammation and infections, in ovarian and cervical cancer, especially when done after surgery.


Breast cancer: Immunological factors affecting incidence, prognosis, and survival

Helen Coley Nauts

In this eighteenth monograph, Nauts provided a comprehensive overview of the treatment landscape in breast cancer and factors affecting outcomes, including natural infections and the use of bacteria-based vaccines.


Spontaneous regression of malignant melanoma

Stephan Maurer and Klaus F. Kölmel

In this nineteenth monograph, Maurer and Kölmel discuss cases of spontaneous tumor elimination in patients with advanced melanoma.


*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.

Top