Coley’s Toxins

Vice-President of Sloan-Kettering, Dr. Lloyd J. Old, was investigating “Coley’s Toxins” when the Laetrile studies came into the Center – thus causing more tension among the “conventional” leaders Memorial Sloan-Kettering (DVD/Blu-ray Extra)

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to “grandfather” Coley’s Toxins as an old drug in 1963, its fate was sealed and its use was barred, even at MKSCC. Then, in 1965, the American Cancer Society added Coley and his toxins to its “unproven methods” list. Coley had descended from a pioneering immunologist to a habitué of the world’s most notorious quack list. But the ACS didn’t reckon with Helen Coley Nauts, who immediately embarked on a one-woman crusade to vindicate her father’s work and restore her family’s good name.

Mrs. Nauts had a single-minded mission to reclaim her father’s (and her family’s) reputation. She began writing a series of unique scientific monographs showing that “Father” had cured incurable cancers with his mixed bacterial vaccine. These were sent to all the medical libraries, where they gathered dust. Helen lacked the scientific sophistication that young Sloan-Kettering Vice President Dr. Lloyd J. Old brought to their collaboration. She was able, however, to raise money for his laboratory through her New York Society connections. Thus began a unique lifelong partnership.

Old turned Nauts’ small New York Cancer Research Institute into a scientifically credible organization. In 1971, he became director of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council, a position he held for the rest of his life.

Dr. Old explained that cancer immunotherapy, his chosen field, had originated with the work of Coley, who had used a mixture of killed bacteria to stimulate the immune system. I asked Old why we couldn’t just study Coley’s toxins themselves, or at least fever therapy. But he voiced the opinion that people in our day no longer experienced high fevers the way they had in Coley’s day. Perhaps, he said, they had been subjected to too many antibiotics in the food supply to be able to mount a vigorous immune response. Coley’s toxins are also difficult to administer and endure and thus there is a big compliance issue.

Eventually, Sloan-Kettering’s Vice President, Dr. Lloyd J. Old helped to get “Coley’s Toxins” as well as “Hyperthermia” permanently removed the the American Cancer Society’s quack list.

“These treatments weren’t quackery at all, they were just the beginnings of good science.” 

(Excerpt taken from Ralph W. Moss’ new book & companion to this documentary, titled “Doctored Results”).



Since 1975, the Cancer Research Institute of New York City gives the “William B. Coley Award” for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology.

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