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Two points about Helen’s work in general that should be stressed and applied both to her published and unpublished material:
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.
Helen Coley Nauts; George A. Fowler, M.D.; and Frances H. Bogatko, M.D.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Helen Coley Nauts and George A. Fowler, M.D.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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