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FDA wait brings US cancer doctor to Cayman

(CNS): A US-based doctor and biomedical researcher who has developed a radiation and chemotherapy-free cancer treatment has opened a clinic in the Cayman Islands because, he says, the wait for the Food and Drug Administration’s approval is years away. Thomas Wagner, PhD, said Cayman was the best available option while the FDA decides if his treatment regimen will be accepted for use in the United States. Describing his treatment as a lifesaver which can benefit patients now, the doctor told a South Carolina newspaper that it involves injecting patients with a vaccine made from their own tumour cells.

Although the clinic’s arrival was noted by the former health minister earlier this year, there has been no official information about the treatment released to the general local media in the Cayman Islands.

However, Wagner spoke with the GSA Business, a bi-weekly newspaper in his native South Carolina about the treatment.

“Every human being is different and every cancer is different,” Wagner said. “If we take every molecule that is in a patient’s tumour and use that complete molecular profile to activate their immune system, that is the best you can get.” He added that “cancer starts in all of us about 10 times a day” and is naturally treated by some bodily process. Wagner said drugs interfere with that natural treatment, while his method enhances it.

Wagner, who has served as a scientific adviser to the World Health Organization, to Congress and to the Reagan administration, described his treatment as providing a better quality of life than other invasive treatments. “It is my belief that the future of medicine will not involve small molecules put in pills or injected into a patient,” he said.

The Perseus PCI (Personalized Cancer Immunotherapeutics) clinic is based at the Smith Road Centre in George Town, and Dr Sook Yin is the clinic’s treating physician for patient care plans. Each patient plan is being coordinated by a team of US-based and licensed doctors who are also licensed to practice in the Cayman Islands.

Wagner is said to be a pioneer in cell-based therapies. In the early 1980s he co-founded Diagnostic Hybrids, which makes and markets cellular and molecular diagnostic kits used for respiratory and other diseases. He is a founder of the Ohio Edison Biotechnology Institute and formerly directed the Greenville Health System’s Oncology Research Institute and Clemson University’s Biomedical Institute. He currently is a director of the Orbis Health Solutions medical research firm in Greenville, a funding partner of Perseus.

The clinic has started scheduling treatments for patients, including some from the doctor’s Greenville area, and his US supporters believe that, despite the lack of FDA approval, his treatment method should be available to patients now as an alternative to sickening chemotherapy and radiation and other immunotherapy treatments that do not only use a patient’s own cells.

Wagner said he “thought long and hard” about how to best make the treatment an option for patients now and decided on the Cayman Islands clinic.

It’s not a question of escaping the United States or anything like that,” Wagner said, adding he had complied with local regulations and law. He predicted that results from treating patients at the clinic will show his immunotherapy method should be allowed there.

Although insurance won’t cover treatment at the clinic or the out-of-country travel costs for US patients, which could range from $40,000 to $100,000, Wagner said that this is still half the cost of some other cancer treatments and his method doesn’t use drugs and isn’t embraced by powerful pharmaceutical companies. Wagner added that his non-pharmaceutical method “doesn’t fit most business models” and is at odds with a corporate mind-set that steers the course of cancer treatment financially.

Wagner said eligibility for clinical trials is limited to “people who have failed everything else. If they die from this they are going to die anyway.” He said 14% of the patients who have participated in his treatments are still alive.

Source: Cayman News Service