Integrative Cancer & Medical Treatment Center of Southern California
2204 El Camino Real Suite 104 Oceanside, CA 92054
Les Breitman, MD
  What is Insulin Potentiation
Therapy (IPT)?

What cancers respond to IPT?

Why is IPT needed?

Is IPT just as effective as the chemotherapy my oncologist would prescribe?

What are the dangers of regular/conventional chemotherapy?

Are there any side effects of IPT Treatment?

What are the benefits of IPT?

Are there any dangers in IPT treatment?

What should I expect when being treated?

Insulin Potentiation Therapy: A More In Depth Look



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Insulin Potentiation Therapy is a protocol for administering traditional chemotherapeutic drugs using Insulin to transport the chemotherapeutic drugs across the cell membrane into the cancer cells. A much lower dose of the highly toxic drugs is required, because IPT treatment targets the cancer cells, for the most part sparing the good cells. The cancer cells get the chemotherapeutic drugs, with very little being absorbed by the normal cells. Therefore, the patient is not likely to suffer severe side effects. We have noticed a very low incidents of hair loss, vomiting, and fevers. The quality of life usually remains high during treatment.


What cancers respond to IPT?
IPT treatment has been reported to work well for many different types of cancers. There are also reports of IPT bringing responses and remissions to patients with some very difficult cancers, even cancers in late stages. Of course, each patient is evaluated anew, depending upon the type of cancer, the virulence of the individual cancer cells, and the stage of development of the cancer when the patient first comes for treatment.


Why is IPT needed?
Over time, traditional chemotherapy dosages may so compromise the patient's blood counts, immune system, and organ function as to delay further treatment or even cause organ damage, resulting in patient morbidity. IPT eliminates the "lesser of two evils" decision all cancer patients face when diagnosed. Patients generally fare well as they experience a gentle and effective answer to cancer.


Is IPT just as effective as the chemotherapy my oncologist would prescribe?
IPT has been used successfully in foreign countries for over 70 years. It has been used in the USA since 1976. There are many happy patients who now support this modified form of chemotherapy. These patients say that IPT is certainly more comfortable than the side effects they experienced with traditional chemotherapy.


What are the dangers of regular/conventional chemotherapy?
Cancer cells are voracious in fighting for the life-sustaining glucose they extract from the blood stream. With 16 times the number of insulin and insulin-like receptors compared to healthy cells, cancer cells steal essential nutrients from the blood stream before the good cells can get suffient amounts. This is why, in advanced stages of cancer, even as the patient becomes emaciated and wastes away, the tumor mercilessly continues to grow. Added to this, because of the cancer cells’ amazing internal protection against toxins, standard administered chemotherapy must be in large enough quantities to force its penetration into the cancer cells. This results in the indiscriminate penetration and killing of healthy cells as well, frequently leaving the patient with fever, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and a substantially diminished quality of life.


Are there any side effects of IPT Treatment?
It has been our experience that the side effects involved with IPT are significantly less than with conventional chemotherapy. It is unusual to encounter hair loss or vomiting. There is occasional constipation, which is easily controlled by simple medications. Some nausea is occasionally encountered for a few hours after the first couple of treatments, but this is also easily managed. The immune and other organ systems are carefully monitored during ongoing treatment, and deficiencies are easily detected and corrected.

There are other infrequent side effects to be reviewed with potential patients at the intitial clinic consultation.


What are the benefits of IPT Treatment?

•IPT can be very tough against tumors while being very gentle for the patient, who continues to live a normal, vital lifestyle while being treated.

•The insulin employed with IPT enables the physician to direct almost all the chemotherapeutic agents to the cancer cells, substantially sparing the normal cells and thereby insulating the patient from the throes of conventional chemotherapy. Therefore, only approximately 10% of the customary dosage of conventional chemotherapy are required. And as a result of this low dosage, with far less toxicity, up to four different chemotherapeutic agents can be administered at each weekly treatment!

•Treatments require only approximately 2-4 hours per week and are administered in the physician’s clinic.

•Treatment costs are significantly less than standard protocol.

•There are no reported deaths due to IPT

Are there any dangers in IPT treatment?
Since these are toxic chemicals, there is always a risk, but because IPT uses much lower doses than conventional chemotherapy, any danger/risk has been signifcantly reduced. Occasional side effects encountered are easily managed constipation and nausea for the first two treatments. Anemia and decreased WBC and platelet counts are unusual and usually not so severe as to require transfusions.

What should I expect when being treated?
We usually advise that 18-22 treatments are required to achieve remission. However, we have observed complete remissions after only six treatments, and occasionally more than 22 treatments are required. It all depends on the type of cancer cell and how far it has advanced in the patient’s body.

IPT is administered in the same manner as traditional chemotherapy—the patient rests in a recliner while the chemotherapeutic agent is received through an IV. The procedure takes about 2 to 4 hours . The number and frequency of treatments vary with each patient.


Insulin Potentiation Therapy: A More In Depth Look
Chemotherapy drugs are powerful cell-killing agents. In current medical practice, getting these drugs into the inside of cancer cells where they do their work requires that they be administered in doses high enough to force them across the membranes of cancer cells.

A major drawback to this dosing strategy is a serious dose-related side effect profile frequently seen with anticancer drugs. This happens because chemotherapy agents do not discriminate between cancer cells and other normal cells in the patient's body. They kill both kinds of cells; therefore there are side effects.

With recent advances in our understanding of the inner workings of cancer cells, it is now possible to mostly avoid the dose-related side effects of chemotherapy, while at the same time increasing the effectiveness and specificity of these agents in killing cancer cells. The key to this is an innovative strategy for drug delivery called Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT).

Readers will recognize insulin as being the hormone used to treat diabetes. Secreted by the pancreas in healthy people, insulin is a powerful hormone with many actions in the human body, a principal one being to manage the delivery of glucose across cell membranes into cells. Insulin communicates its messages to cells by joining up with specific insulin receptors scattered on the outer surface of the cell membranes. Every cell in the human body has numerous such receptors. But cancer cells have aproximately 16 times the number of insulin and insulin-like receptors as normal cells.

One might well ask, "What does any of this have to do with cancer cells?" It is a well-known scientific fact that cancer cells have a voracious appetite for glucose. Glucose is their sole source of energy, and because of the relatively inefficient way cancer cells burn this fuel, they use up a great deal of it. This is one reason why cancer patients lose so much weight. Because cancer cells require so much glucose, they virtually steal it away from the body's normal cells, thus starving them. They utilize their superior majority of insulin receptors to accomplish this scavenging of the blood glucose.

The interesting connection between cancer cells and insulin is that recent findings published in the scientific medical literature report that cancer cells actually manufacture and secrete their own insulin. That cancer cells should be able to do this makes good sense, knowing of their requirements for large amounts of glucose to fuel their processes of uncontrolled growth. Related to this insulin secretion, and central to the operation of Insulin Potentiation Therapy, is the even more interesting fact that cancer cells have sixteen times more insulin and insulin-like receptors per cell than any of the normal cells in the body. This fact creates a valuable opportunity for the chemotherapy of cancer because it significantly differentiates normal cells from the cancerous ones.

It has been demonstrated that insulin also carries chemotherapeutic agents across the cell membrane — resulting in the cancer cells receiving a much higher dose of chemotherapeutic agents than the normal healthy cells during IPT. This is because of the vast overabundance of insulin receptors. Thus we are able to deliver an effective treatment using greatly reduced doses of the drugs, effectively eliminating their dose-related side effects.

There is a kind of poetic justice in this wonderful coincidence of cancer cell biology. The mechanisms that cancer cells use to kill people are the same ones manipulated in IPT to selectively potentiate chemotherapy effects in them, and to more safely and effectively kill the cancer cells. A published article about cancer cells in tissue culture reported that the addition of insulin to the culture medium enhanced the cell-killing effect of methotrexate — a commonly used chemotherapy drug — by a factor of up to ten thousand. This striking result was attributed to two effects on the cancer cells.

One was an effect of insulin to increase the trans-membrane transport of the methotrexate into the cell. The other was what the author called "metabolic modification by insulin" within the cancer cells. There is yet another wonderful and powerful coincidence of cancer cell biology involved in this factor of "metabolic modification" — one that fits right in with the workings of Insulin Potentiation Therapy.

The metabolic modification by insulin mentioned above results from the fact that not only can it join up with its own specific receptors on cell membranes, but insulin is also able to join up with the receptors for insulin-like growth-factor, and to communicate messages about growth to these cells. While it may seem highly undesirable for a cancer therapy to actually promote cancer cell growth, this is in fact a valuable effect of insulin here.

Chemotherapy side effects result from actions on the cells of patients' hair follicles, their bone marrow, and the cells lining the stomach and intestines. This is what causes the hair loss, low blood cell counts, and the nausea and vomiting. What these different cell types all have in common — along with cancer cells — is that they are all rapidly dividing cells.

Chemotherapy drugs like to attack rapidly dividing cells, indiscriminately. In a tumor, not all the cancer cells are in this rapidly dividing stage all at once. They take turns. When insulin joined up with the excess of insulin-like growth-factor receptors on those cancer cells in the tissue culture, it stimulated maturation in many of the cells that were not in this growth phase. This "metabolic modification by insulin" rendered more of these cells to be susceptible to chemotherapy attack, contributing to their increased death rate as observed in the experiment.

In Insulin Potentiation Therapy, insulin administration does cause the blood glucose to decrease. This is called hypoglycemia. This hypoglycemia is an anticipated and desired side effect of the insulin, one rapidly and effectively controllable with intravenous glucose infusions at an appropriate time, according to the IPT protocol. The principal role insulin plays in IPT is that of a biologic response modifier. It modifies the biologic response of cancer cells in such a way that lowered doses of anticancer drugs, administered in conjunction with insulin, will kill the cancer cells more effectively. Insulin modifies the cell membrane, allowing more anticancer drugs into the cell. It also modifies the growth characteristics in tumors, making more of the cancer cells vulnerable to anticancer drug effects.

Due to the great excess of insulin-sensitive receptors on cancer cell membranes, we are now able to create a clear differentiation between cancer and normal cells, using insulin.

Because of this important element of differentiation, along with the biologic response modification insulin produces, conventional chemotherapy drugs get targeted more specifically and more effectively inside the cancer cells only, and this can occur with the use of greatly reduced doses of these cell-killing drugs. Cancer cells die, tumors shrink, and few if any side effects are caused in other tissues. Insulin Potentiation Therapy appears to be a wonderful new way of treating cancer, using nothing other than conventional chemotherapy drugs.

IPT is not generally accepted by the traditional oncology community. There have been no truly scientific clinical studies that would confirm the effectiveness of IPT. However, there are numerous physicians in the world certified to perform IPT. They and numerous patients would attest to the value of IPT. Further study of this apparently remarkable theraphy is encouraged.

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  © 2006 Les Breitman, Administrator