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BEIJING — American surgeon Henry Heimlich is best known for inventing a way to rescue choking victims, but a quarter-century ago, he was vilified for promoting a fringe treatment for AIDS and Lyme disease. Called malarial therapy, it involved injecting patients with the malaria-causing parasite, supposedly to stimulate their immune systems.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report saying the procedure “cannot be justified,” and another critic compared its use to the discredited practice of bleeding patients with leeches. Despite the criticism, Heimlich launched trials of the therapy in HIV patients in Mexico and China in the 1990s. Now, the scientist who led the Chinese study is using malarial therapy again — this time to treat cancer patients. And the still-unproven intervention is being hailed in China as a miracle cure.

Amid the Chinese New Year holiday last month, a prominent Chinese scientist at Guangzhou Medical University announced on state television channel CCTV1 that trials of the immunotherapy had shown promising results, with two cancer patients who “had almost returned to normal.”

…continue reading ‘An AIDS Therapy Involving Parasite Injections Was Discredited. China Is Reviving It — For Cancer’

Thumb image By Department of Pathology, Calicut Medical College – Calicut Medical College, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37664567

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