An acquaintance might ask me – I have heard that you keep telling people that you have an effective treatment for cancer. It seems very absurd to us all. You don’t have any medical degree like, MD or MBBS. Nor have you ever been affiliated with any cancer research institute. You came to the USA around 1975 to do a PhD in chemistry at UCLA. What does that have to do with cancer? … Hey, there are so many cancer institutes in the world, hundreds of thousands are doing research on the subject. They are not able to make much headway... and you are so special that you have found a way to defeat such a dreadful disease!
Without being nonplussed, I (Jay Kulsh) would reply with a bit of confidence – I wouldn't call myself special, but cancer is certainly special or unique – different from almost all other diseases. While microbes – bacteria, viruses, etc. are at the root of most of our diseases, cancer is primarily caused by toxic chemicals known as carcinogens. Everyone is aware that such harmful chemicals can reach our body due to the consumption of tobacco. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that knowledge of chemistry may provide insight into cancer.
Acquaintance: All right. …But how could you – who have not been associated with any scientific or medical institution in the last four decades – uncover something so significant, which countless cancer researchers, many with stellar curriculum vitae, at this task for such a long time, could not see?
Kulsh: It is a matter of approach… To solve the riddle of cancer, this disease can be looked at from different perspectives: from molecular biology (genetics) angle or from biochemistry angle. For the last 50-60 years, there has been almost a total supremacy of gene-centric approach. It is not hard to see how this happened. May I go into some basic molecular biology to explain this?
Acquaintance: Go ahead. I will try my best to understand.
Kulsh: Genes are made up of DNA molecules. In 1953, Watson and Crick discovered the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. (See the accompanying picture, which you may have seen in many places before.) Over the next decade or two, it became clear how genetic information is stored in this molecule. Then in 1971, a major event occurred in the field of cancer research: the RB gene was discovered, which when missing or mutated (damaged) always causes retinoblastoma, cancer of children's eye. Mutated genes were also being observed in most other cancers. This led to an explosion of interest in cancer-related genes. All cancer researchers became focused on them. The gene-centric viewpoint became the only way to look at cancer.
Acquaintance: It must not have taken long to find genes associated with every cancer.
Kulsh: That was the hope. But today, even after 50 years, retinoblastoma remains the only cancer whose occurrence is directly related to a malfunctioning gene.
Acquaintance: Wow, hard to believe! But even if not direct, there must be some indirect or round-about relationships of bad genes with other cancers.
Kulsh: Even when such associations have been found, they are far from robust.
In an attempt to understand gene-cancer relationships, the genes were divided into two groups - one defensive, the other offensive. The former genes are those that prevent cancer (‘tumor suppressor genes’), the latter are those that cause cancer when mutated (‘oncogenes’).
Note that the gene that causes infant-eye cancer retinoblastoma is in the first category. The cancer occurs not in its presence, but in its absence. Five more similar genes were identified that may have an inborn error, but when missing or mutated, these genes do not necessarily lead to cancer, they only increase the chance of developing cancer. Hence such medical conditions are called ‘cancer susceptibility syndromes’ – and all are very rare. This phenomenon is also seen in 5-10 percent of breast cancer cases, where certain mutated inherited genes do not cause cancer but increase susceptibility to the disease.
It is significant that more than 90% of all cancers are linked to ’oncogenes’ of the second category – and the story here is dismal. In the same tumor, one oncogene may be found at one place and a different one at another location. Another person with the same cancer may have altogether different oncogenes. As if after a battle, each soldier is wounded in its own way – suggesting that oncogenes may not be the cause but consequence of cancer.
Not surprisingly, gene-centric cancer researchers are stuck, spinning their wheels. But the status quo is providing decent – even fabulous, in some cases – livelihood for many.
Acquaintance: Given these disappointing results, was there no call for re-evaluation?
Kulsh: Certainly there have been such calls.
But first let me mention that in 1971, President Nixon had declared "war on cancer". Just as President Kennedy had set the goal of reaching the moon within a decade in 1961, which had been accomplished by American scientists and engineers, so there was hope that the scientists and doctors, given abundant resources, would soon be able to conquer or control this ghastly disease. Now there was no scarcity of funds for cancer research.
So when cancer remained a mystery after not just 10, but even 20 years, the Scientific American magazine asked in 1994:
“Have the [cancer] researchers and clinicians been barking up the wrong trees…?”
But the direction of cancer research did not change. Gene-centered thinking prevailed in the hope that perhaps the discovery of some additional mutated genes would clarify the picture. To this end, in 2006, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched ‘The Cancer Genome Atlas’ (TCGA) campaign, in which genes of 20,000 cancers of 33 types were studied. Now there was an enormous amount of data about mutated genes. But there were no recognizable patterns in this information. No synergistic accounts could be provided. No meaningful conclusions could be drawn about how cancer starts and how it spreads. The disease remained as inscrutable as it was before these efforts.
Acquaintance: And what is your approach to solving the mystery of cancer? Are there not others thinking like you?
Kulsh: I looked at cancer from the point of view of biochemistry where enzymes are critical because they facilitate almost all changes in biological cells. But before going into details of this topic, let me share my little bit of experience with the co-discoverer of DNA structure, Dr. James Watson, mentioned before.
As head of the prestigious New York scientific institution Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Dr. Watson directed research in the field of molecular biology for 40 years (1968–2007), where the emphasis was on the systematic study of cancer-related genes.
In 1993 I wanted to discuss with him ideas expressed in my article 'Role of an Enzyme in the Origin of Cancer'. Eventually, he did give me time, but in that 10-minute meeting, he was unwilling to accept that biochemistry could play a role in cancer initiation. He kept describing various mutated genes. I came back disappointed.
But after 23 years, I was shocked, and also delighted, when I read this statement of his in the New York Times on May 12, 2016:
locating the genes that cause cancer has been "remarkably unhelpful”… If he were going into cancer research today, he would study biochemistry rather than molecular biology.
It was pointless to contact him now. He was 88 years old and retired.
It should be noted that there are other prominent scientists besides Dr. James Watson who have realized that genes do not hold the key to cancer. But the cancer researchers are still fixated on them. Money is pouring from all directions, genetic sequencing is becoming easier by the day, so why stop? Hence the war on cancer is being lost – not counting this treatment which is based on biochemistry of cancer.
Now let me return to my ideas regarding the origin of cancer. I need to go into some concepts of chemistry and biochemistry. I hope I don’t lose you.
Acquaintance: I am attentive.
Kulsh: First let me talk about ‘free-radicals’ – a topic of chemistry. You can think of them as singles (unmarried) in the vast community of married people.
We are all familiar with the words electronics and electricity. Their basis are electrons – the subatomic particles. Every atom contains one or more electrons which are part of its outer structure. When different atoms combine to form a molecule, they either exchange or share electrons. The objective is always the same – to form a pair. Thus, just about every molecule, every substance, has paired electrons everywhere in its composition. But a few very rare exceptions are also found where the electron is alone or free. These molecules are called ‘free-radicals’. Generally such substances are very reactive and unstable.
And when there is a large assembly of electrons, we call them electric current or electricity. (There is a special reason to mention this fact here, which will become obvious shortly.)
Are you with me? May I proceed further?
Acquaintance: Sure, go ahead.
Kulsh: Now I will tell what enzymes are and what is cancer.
Every creature on earth is made of one or more cells – and all transformations in any cell are mediated by enzymes. These enzymes are specialized proteins and act as biological catalysts. No biochemical reaction is possible without these catalysts.
Now about cancer. Most of the cells in our body divide sooner or later. One cell grows into two. Such growth is normally highly regulated and limited. But when for some reason, division and growth of cells goes out of control, cancer is formed. (Heart cells do not divide, so heart cancer is not found.)
Next I need to talk about a particular enzyme and its structure. This is the most complex scientific topic of this discussion. But after that it will be easy to understand the rest. Are you still with me?
Acquaintance: Yes, and I will become a little more attentive.
Kulsh: The process of division of a cell consists of several steps, and one or more enzymes are responsible for the completion of each step. The enzyme that plays a central role in the process of cell division or growth is called Ribonucleotide Reductase or RnR. The number of RnR enzymes is very small in a normal healthy organ, but its amount increases exponentially in a cancerous organ. Such a difference is not seen in the activity of any other enzyme.
While all enzymes are proteins – which are bundles of amino acids – most enzymes also have an “active-site” in their structure. Think of active-site of an enzyme like the anvil in a blacksmith's shop (on which a hot iron is beaten), or the nib in a pen. The active-site of the RnR enzyme is very distinct. It contains a free-radical whose lone electron is stabilized by two nearby iron atoms.
If there is any damage to the active-site of RnR – missing free-radical or missing iron atoms – then this enzyme becomes impotent, i.e. all its activity stops.
On the other hand, if for some reason the amount of RnR enzymes stays high, the cells grow uncontrollably and cancer occurs.
In the 1993 article I showed that carcinogens have the ability to overstimulate the active-site of the RnR enzyme, thus causing cancer. Besides Dr. Watson, I met other scientists. (Also wrote to many others.) A senior scientist irritatingly said – What difference does it make how cancer starts? Look at cancer patients. How many are suffering, how many are dying. They don’t care for the cause; they want a cure!
Acquaintance: He was, of course, right. What did you think, or do, then?
Kulsh: To think about treating cancer also, I remain focused on the same RnR enzyme. After all, there may be great differences of opinion on how cancer is initiated, but all cancer experts agree that if you can block the activity of RnR, you can stop cancer.
Since the 1970s, scientists have been synthesizing chemotherapeutic drugs with the aim to inhibit the activity of RnR. (I came to know this enzyme in 1976 from a research paper on this topic.) But these drugs are only partially effective, and toxic to healthy organs.
It occurred to me why not run mild electric current through the cancer. The lone electron at the active-site of the RnR enzyme will find a partner to pair with or may itself be carried away by the electric current. With free-radical gone, activity of RnR will cease. The cancer will stop growing!
Acquaintance: But it was just a theory or idea. What was proof that this can actually happen?
Kulsh: Yes, at that time it was only a hypothesis. I had to search through medical books and journals to see if anyone has ever tried to pass electricity through cancer.
This was 1994. I found Dr. Robert O. Becker's book “Cross Currents: The Perils of Electropollution, the Promise of Electromedicine”. It had a strange story of a farmer – published in the British medical journal Lancet in 1880 – whose lip and chin cancer was slowly healed after a lightning struck him from the sky, which had rendered him unconscious.
This book also mentioned the first modern attempt at cancer electrotherapy, whose beneficial results were published in 1959 in the prestigious journal Science. I rushed over to UCLA's Biomed library to read this article, and from its reference, I could find 9 other research papers published on the subject till then. It was very pleasing to notice that all of them confirmed my above hypothesis. About half of the experiments did not result in significant benefit because they used electricity at too high a voltage, which resulted in harmful electrochemistry, and left no electrons to destroy free-radicals. This also supported my proposition because to disable the RnR enzyme, pure electrotherapy (without any electrochemistry) is desired, which is only possible at low voltage.
Amongst the 10 articles, the most impressive was the study published in the journal Cancer Research in 1985. It reported that on passing gentle electric current for 1 hour per day, for 5 days, tumors of hamsters were reduced by as much as 98% or virtual cure.
Acquaintance: Then you must have started jumping with joy.
Kulsh: No, that day has not come even after 29 years.
Of course, now I was fully convinced that I have a technique to control cancer. And also that this method will be applicable to all cancers as there is no difference between them at the biochemical level.
I enthusiastically called the author Dr. Becker. He listened to my ideas, agreed, but said that such a treatment cannot be patented and is very cheap so no cancer organization will touch it. Cancer supports more people than it kills. This treatment will never see the light of the day.
It was very disheartening to hear his pessimistic views. I did not want to believe him. But he was right, of course; I am still struggling after almost 30 years.
Acquaintance: If cancer patients come to know this, they will be stunned. The current cancer treatments (surgery, radiation and chemo) are called “slash, burn & poison”. Will there be no change in them, simply because an effective and gentle cancer therapy will be much less profitable? But you obviously did not give up...
Kulsh: Yes, in 1994 I wrote to all the "comprehensive cancer centers" (CCCs) in the country – which were 8 at the time – and to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Also called them. Only 3 responded. The two replies were precious, and still are – especially since virtually no U.S. cancer center has responded ever since, although the number of CCCs is now over 50.
One reply was from MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston – the topmost cancer research center in USA. Excerpts from their long letter:
“… very interesting... the [electrotherapy] information … are interesting and deserving of further investigation...
We will keep the material on file should opportunities arise to study the effects of electric currents on regression of tumors.”
That "opportunity" hasn't come in more than 25 years, although the money needed to study cancer electrotherapy would be minimal.
The other reply was from the National Cancer Institute. It also called my ideas "very interesting" and suggested that I contact Dr. C.K. Chou of the City of Hope Medical Center near Los Angeles who was doing similar research.
I immediately went to meet him. He was treating cancer patients with electrochemistry, on his visits to China, with sporadic success. Dr. Chou introduced me to his friend and colleague Dr. Yun Yen who happened to be doing research on the RnR enzyme. He agreed with me that to treat cancer, pure electrotherapy is needed, without any electrochemistry, so that free radicals can be destroyed. He also concurred that cancer may originate at the site of this enzyme. We planned cooperation so that further research can be done.
Returning from that meeting, I was ecstatic. But after ten days all hopes were dashed. Management of City of Hope vetoed the cooperation, because such therapy would "not bring patients" to their hospital. By 'patients' they really meant ‘piles of cash’. I recalled what Dr. Becker had said.
Acquaintance: We all know that profit motive is very high in the healthcare industry in America. Did you ever contact cancer organizations in other countries?
Kulsh: Did I ever? I have forgotten the count.
I cannot go into every effort I made in the past three decades. That will take too much time. A few significant events, a few major steps should suffice – to give a sense of the enormity of the struggle.
In 1997, my article ‘Targeting a key enzyme in cell growth: a novel therapy for cancer’ was published in a scientific journal. I sent its copy to more than 300 cancer institutions around the world – with a request for collaboration so that the parameters of this treatment can be established. About ten percent responded. It is noteworthy that 7 out of 8 British cancer centers responded and said that they do not have facilities to study this protocol. (Though it would have been very easy to set up such a facility.) The 8th center did have facilities since it had recently published a research paper on electrotherapy; That center kept quiet.
Only one institution expressed a desire to collaborate with me. That was Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India’s top cancer institution. It’s Dr. Sarin corresponded with me, but within a year, during the making of suitable equipment, the hospital lost interest.
Acquaintance: What options were you left with now?
Kulsh: After years of frustration, in 2003, I created this web site (www.cancer-treatment.net). The treatment was named GEIPE (Gentle Electrotherapy to Inhibit a Pivotal Enzyme). Cancers that are visible from the outside, which include almost all the facial cancers, can be treated by this method as a home-remedy. A few cancer patients started contacting. On their demand, I built a treatment device – rudimentary by today’s standards – which I kept improving. Some patients requested the device. A few found their cancer pain alleviated, others had their seepage stopped. Then in the year 2005, a doctor from Nigeria ordered a GEIPE device, which was modified by his electrician friend. With it, the doctor was able to successfully treat a woman's palate cancer. See the pictures below:
In 2008, a Florida engineer could heal facial cancer of his 93-year-old father-in-law with this method. (Rather than asking for my simple device, he made his own electronic device.) See the pictures below:
Acquaintance: These pictures clearly show that your treatment works. You must have put them on your web site. Now many more cancer patients must have started contacting you.
Kulsh: Actually that didn't happen. By then, there were so many cancer sites on the Internet that traffic to my website was reduced to a trickle. I didn't have the resources to advertise.
But I did get an electronic GEIPE device built and went to India in 2010. Met many cancer doctors. Only one doctor, who has a multistorey cancer hospital in Agra, was willing to collaborate. He provided two patients.
The first patient had cancer in the cheek-lip area, and had gone through 12 rounds of chemotherapy. With GEIPE treatment, he started getting better. He could chew food now. See the pictures below:
But on a visit to his village in the fourth week, he caught an infection. His immune system was very weak due to all those chemo doses. His health began to decline rapidly. Had to stop therapy in the 5th week.
The second patient had a large tumor on his right eyelid. The solid cancer gradually melted away with the treatment. See the four pictures below:
On seeing benefits to these two patients, the hospital decided not to give any more patients. (Still, I am very grateful to that doctor for the cooperation of those two months, which I could not find elsewhere.)
Acquaintance: Then what stone was left for you to turn?
Kulsh: In the year 2010, I contacted Tata Memorial Hospital again. This time I sent pictures of treated patients. They answered again. The director of the hospital, Dr. Anil K. D'Cruz, started exchanging emails with me. I answered his various questions. Then suddenly he stopped the communication. I sent 9 emails, he sent 7.
The Tata Memorial Hospital showed interest in the treatment twice, but both times they balked. This behavior suggests that they seek a better treatment for cancer and find my GEIPE treatment promising and rational, but when they consider all the consequences of establishing this revolutionary treatment, they get anxious and withdraw.
It is a matter of concern for any hospital if the most expensive medical treatment becomes the least expensive. Who would like such a huge drop in income? What will the providers of chemo and radiation do? How many will need to find a new job?
It reminds me of a statement of famous social reformer and author Upton Sinclair of the last century:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
Cancer sufferers, on the other hand, will be shocked to know that the treatment that is likely to ease their suffering and heal their cancer, is not available simply because it will reduce the profits of hospitals, and will cause many to change jobs...
All ethical arguments are in the favor of cancer patients. The economic upheaval of cancer institutions, once this treatment is established, will last only one or two years. People will get new jobs. Which country has a surplus of doctors? Also, note that most of the cancers are of internal tissues. For them, there will always be a need for hospitals and doctors.
Acquaintance: Based on your experiences it seems futile to expect that a cancer hospital will on its own explore this treatment, and make it available to the patients. Only social pressure can change the status quo.
The conversation is becoming a bit long. Now tell in brief, if anything important has happened in the last ten or so years.
Kulsh: You are correct about the need for social pressure – and that is more likely to come about in countries like India or Brazil than in the U.S.A.
Meanwhile, there has been progress on some fronts. In 2012, I registered a company in California for GEIPE cancer treatment, which was given status of Non-Profit by the I.R.S.
In 2014, my second article ‘Low-Level Electric Current and Cancer – A Promising, But Languishing Non-Toxic Cancer Therapy’ was published in a scientific journal.
My third article, Biochemistry – Not Oncogenes – May Demystify and Defeat Cancer, was published in Feb 2023 in the journal 'Oncology and Therapy' of the Springer-Nature publisher. It contains a noteworthy revelation:
Recent research has shown that the RnR enzyme is the reason why occurrence of retinoblastoma (infant eye cancer) is directly related to the faulty RB gene. That gene controls production of RnR subunit containing the free-radical. Hence, in its absence, there is an over-abundance of RnR and cancer gains foothold. The RnR enzyme has a similar role in cervical cancer caused by HPV virus.