Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume
12, Number 4
June - July 2005
multiple awards to his name for cancer research, this
childhood prodigy was silenced when his forbidden
science began closing in on the secret of eternal life
The ability to deal effectively with diseases such as cancer and the
consequences of the ageing process remains one of the last major
challenges for biomedical science.
In order to meet this challenge,
it is pivotal that we understand the underlying mechanisms for the
cell growth cycle, i.e. why cells grow and divide, why they undergo
a process known as differentiation (why and how identical embryonic
cells become mature liver, skin, brain cells, etc.) and why,
ultimately, cells lapse into senescence and die—causing the
metabolic decline and death of the organism.
Problems such as these have obsessed me since childhood and have
fired a passionate interest in chemistry and biology long before I
enrolled in my first college chemistry course. Considering the
extreme human, social and economic costs of diseases such as cancer,
heart disease and illnesses associated with advancing age, I could
be forgiven for thinking during my high school years that a career
devoted to solving these problems was the noblest pursuit possible.
If someone had told me that vested interests did not want solutions
to these most pressing of medical problems, I would have considered
them a delusional conspiracy nut. However, my experiences have me
permanently disabused of this notion.
In this article, I wish to relate the incredible odyssey that has
been my life and some details of the medical research that I have
undertaken. I believe that this research, if taken to its logical
conclusion, stands a good chance of yielding non-toxic treatments
for various forms of cancer and also for prolonging the human life
span—possibly indefinitely. Instead of being lauded for these
achievements, I have had my education and career in the medical
sciences derailed and my life essentially ruined.
There are many lessons to be learned from my experiences that would
be worthy of a Hollywood thriller. The first is just how
precariously close we stand to bringing the fountain of youth out of
the realm of mythology and into the laboratory and ultimately, the
clinic—the clues to this endeavour being provided by some of the
lowliest (and annoying) organisms on earth. The second lesson is
just how committed the medical (and possibly political)
establishments are to preventing this from happening and lastly, how
deeply the tentacles of vested interests (both personal and
institutional) penetrate the hearts and minds of many doctors,
administrators and medical educators and function to beat down any
type of non-conformist creativity which challenges the status quo.
I live in the Midwestern United States where I also grew up and
received my education. I currently possess a Bachelor of Science,
majoring in biology, and hold a master’s degree in political
science/international trade. While my classmates in high school were
attending ball games and doing what other high schoolers do, I was
performing synthetic organic chemistry in a makeshift lab in my
home. Developing novel non-toxic agricultural chemicals for the
control of pests was my initial preoccupation. Later I became
interested in creating non-toxic modalities for the treatment of
cancer. These interests were shaped by an unconventional junior high
school biology teacher who encouraged in vivo experimentation
(apologies to anti-vivisectionist readers) and pressed students to
do independent research to solve medical problems.
It was during my high school years that I entered and won virtually
every science fair with the various projects that I was undertaking.
During my senior year, I won first place in my state science fair
and received the state medical association’s certification of
distinction for designing novel classes of antineoplastics
(anti-cancer drugs). I was published professionally, received the
American Chemical Society Award, my city’s Engineering and
Scientific Society award and was inducted into my state’s Academy of
Science as well as into the New York Academy of Sciences and the
American Association for the Advancement of Science before
graduating from high school.
In college I continued in my pursuits to unravel the mysteries of
how cancer cells develop and metastasise. As it was unusual for
undergraduate students to develop and run their own projects, I was
fortunate to work with faculty members in my biology and chemistry
departments who gave me free run of their facilities. This research
led to the development of new classes of compounds which could
almost completely block invasion (the process by which cancer cells
migrate into healthy tissue). These compounds were essentially
non-toxic. I obtained funding for this research through a local
oncologist and his hospital, as well as from my university’s
foundation. My research was featured on local television and in
newspapers and I received several accolades, including the Who’s Who
Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Award. Thus,
upon receiving my bachelor’s degree I had every reason to suspect a
successful passage through medical school and a productive career in
Upon entering medical school, I again had the fortune of working
with a faculty member who understood the potential of my work and
gave me any assistance that he could render. I was funded by my
oncologist acquaintance as well as through grant money from the
American Cancer Society and other government-funded
became steadily more engrossed in the mysteries of the cell growth
cycle and continued synthesizing novel classes of cell growth
regulators that eventually led me to develop an entirely new
perspective on such issues as the human life span, cancer and other
illnesses that my medical school professors were presenting as
unrelated phenomena. I now present this work in an abbreviated form
to facilitate understanding by readers without biomedical
MYSTERIES OF THE AGES
Although the stages of the cell growth cycle and the cellular and
histological transformations that accompany them are fairly
well-known to medical science, the biochemical mechanisms that bring
these changes about are poorly defined at best. This is why current
therapies for disease states which entail rapid and uncontrolled
cell division (such as cancer), consist mainly of poisoning the
offending cells with toxic drugs (chemotherapy), radiation
(radiotherapy), or removing them through surgery.
Our understanding of the underlying mechanisms for the ageing
process leaves even more to be desired. We have virtually no
therapies today that can effectively halt or even slow the vaunted
biological clock. All we can hope to do is to cover up the signs of
ageing through various cosmetic modalities and to treat various
age-related maladies (arteriosclerosis, heart disease, etc.,) with
therapeutic regimens which address symptoms rather than ultimate
To anyone who has had to care for patients afflicted with the
debilitating sequel of ageing or the horrendous consequences of
life-threatening cancers, this is a wholly unsatisfactory state of
affairs that cries out for new insights and approaches.
Anyone who identifies the precise factors that regulate what cells
do at specific points in the cell growth cycle will have achieved a
quantum leap in our understanding not only of the genesis of cancer
but also of the age-old question concerning why animals, including
humans, age and ultimately die. Such knowledge will not only enable
medical science to safely and effectively treat many disease states
which today remain enigmatic, but also has profound ramifications
for the cosmetic industry.
STATE OF LONGEVITY RESEARCH
In order to overcome the limitations of current orthodoxies
regarding cell growth and differentiation, it is necessary to
briefly review what those orthodoxies are. Within the appropriate
body of scholarship dealing with these issues, there have been two
basic schools of thought as to what causes cell senescence, cell
death and the dysfunctions associated with neoplastic disease (e.g.
cancer). The currently dominant one is the free-radical approach.
Reduced to its most basic form, this view holds that cellular
dysfunctions, which lead to cancer as well as ageing and eventual
cell death, are caused by the destructive action of environmental
free radicals upon various important cellular components such as
DNA. In this fatalistic view, ageing can be understood as an
irreversible and inevitable accumulation of cellular damage. It is
my belief that this view is at least partially wrong.
I was once told that research into prolonging the human life span
was futile because "every living thing has to grow old and die".
Yet, this fatalistic generalization is patently untrue. Many
unicellular organisms are effectively immortal and reproduce by
dividing indefinitely, only succumbing to environmental
catastrophes—such as the Clorox bleach in your washing machine.
Likewise, there are multicellular organisms for which the concept of
growing old is meaningless. Giant sequoia trees can be thousands of
years old—yet keep on growing and producing vigorous and functional
leaves and internal structures such as xylem and phloem year after
year—being felled only by lightning strikes or chain saws. Certain
crustaceans such as lobsters grow bigger but do not manifest the
age-related declines in reflexes and physiological parameters that
plague humans and other animals.
Entomologists have long known that hormonal manipulation can prevent
metamorphosis and keep insects in the juvenile state indefinitely.
This knowledge has formed the basis for insecticide design.
Likewise, hormonal cues control the development of plants by
affecting the proliferation and differentiation of plant cells.
Auxin-class herbicides, such as the ubiquitous
2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) have been used for
eradicating dandelions from lawns for decades. These substances
cause discordant cell growth and differentiation which leads to
fatal morphological changes and physiological dysfunctions.
Considering how important such hormonal systems are to the survival
of such a diverse group of organisms, I reasoned that mammals
possess systems (even if in a vestigial state) which are
functionally analogous, even if the specific chemistry may differ.
A second approach to understanding ageing holds that cell growth,
differentiation, ageing and death are not the sole result of
accumulated cellular damage or of some unstoppable biological clock
which resides exclusively within cells, but that these are instead
hormonally mediated phenomena which result from the interaction of a
cell’s genes with chemical substances present in the extracellular
matrix and produced in remote locations in the body.
This theory is supported by various lines of converging evidence,
including research done on the rare disease progeria, a syndrome in
which various endocrine glands malfunction and the victim rapidly
ages and usually dies before the chronological age of twenty.
This devastating and poorly understood disease strongly indicates
that the biological clock can be reset and speeded-up, and that this
speeding up is associated with the failure of the pineal gland (a
pea-sized gland which lies at the centre of the brain), as well as
the entire hypothalamic-pituitary axis. The failure of these glands
to secrete vital hormones then causes the degenerative changes
throughout the body commonly associated with ageing, only much
sooner than in healthy individuals who lack the particular genetic
defects associated with progeria.
My own research, both in the library and the laboratory, has led me
to gradually put such observations together with findings from other
lines of investigation. For instance, it is now acknowledged that
the hormone melatonin—secreted by the pineal gland—plays a role not
only in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, but also in
prolonging life span and in some cases, halting and even reversing
some of the symptoms of ageing in laboratory animals and humans. The
hormone also has anti-cancer activity. Such research, mostly
performed in Europe, is amply cited in Dr Walter Pierpaoli’s 1995
The Melatonin Miracle, and need not be dealt with in
Since melatonin is already a commonly sold health supplement, it
cannot be patented by pharmaceutical companies and consequently has
marshalled little interest from the medical establishment, at least
on this side of the Atlantic. However, this is irrelevant from the
perspective of my own
I believe that melatonin is an important, but relatively small piece
of the overall puzzle and my work has taken this line of research
beyond Dr Pierpaoli’s discoveries into wholly uncharted territory.
Synthesizing this diverse basic research with the results of my own
work in cell culture and in vivo, I have formulated the following
1. Melatonin’s anti-ageing
and anti-cancer effects are at least in part due to the fact
that this hormone, after it leaves the pineal gland (where it is
made), travels to the thymus gland located behind the breastbone
and possibly other endocrine glands where it functions as a
"releasing hormone" and modulates the synthesis of at least two
other chemically distinct hormones unacknowledged by medical
science which I will label only as hormone "X" and
for our purposes here. I have identified the chemical structures
of these substances.
2. It is both the relative
and absolute ambient levels of hormones X and Y in the body that
modulate cellular growth, ageing and differentiation phenomena.
This effect is in turn probably modulated by melatonin and at
least one trace metal or its organometallic complexes.
Preliminary indications are that these interactions are complex
and remain largely unknown due to the limitations in funds and
facilities under which my previous work has been carried out.
The production of these substances is probably governed by
complex feedback loops that involve the sex hormones, thyroid
hormones, etc. Elucidating these relationships must remain one
goal for future research.
3. The thymus gland begins
the process of involution after the chronological age of 20-30
years in humans. The pineal also calcifies and deteriorates.
That is why CT and NMR scans of the heads of older individuals
reveal a white pea-sized object in the basal area of the brain
which I have seen many people mistake for alien implants. I
submit that the deterioration of these glands precipitates a
deflection in the concentrations of hormone X, hormone Y, or
both. The magnitude and direction (up or down) of these
deflections is unknown, but is probably downward.
4. It is this perturbation in
the levels of hormones X and/or Y that triggers cell senescence
and eventual death, causing tissues to stop turning over and
precipitating the physical declines associated with ageing.
Since one of these hormones is involved in maintaining cells in
a differentiated state, this could provide the long-awaited
answer as to why cancer prevalence in general increases as we
age, and also why sexual differentiation and other tissue
differentiation declines in the same interval.
5. Seemingly intractable
problems can only be solved by reinterpreting the problems in
novel ways. Cancer cells can be thought of as normal cells which
have reverted to a de-differentiated state—i.e. they resemble
rapidly dividing, undifferentiated embryonic cells rather than
the mature, slowly dividing, properly behaving normal cells of
the tissues from which they derive. It is also known to
researchers that cancer cells are effectively immortal; if given
a proper environment, they can live and reproduce indefinitely,
just as can bacteria and certain types of plant and
This finding alone indicates that
ageing and death are not the inevitable fates that they are made
out to be, but are instead the results of a program which can be
altered. Although little has been made of this by conventional
researchers, it strongly suggests that cancer is not a disease
state, but a developmental problem, just as is ageing. Cancer
cells are not behaving badly, they are just behaving in a manner
inappropriate for their age. It is, in other words, a problem
with the biological clock. Since melatonin is one of the
substances that modulates the biological clock, this would
explain melatonin’s anti-cancer effects and also suggested to me
that hormones X and Y might have similar effects.
6. Since the chemical
structures of both hormones X and Y are attainable by
traditional means of organic synthesis, their manufacture is
relatively straightforward. As is also the case with many other
currently acknowledged hormones such as the oestrogens and
progestins, it is possible to synthesize relatively low
molecular weight analogues of hormones X and Y which retain the
parent molecule’s biological activity. I have prepared several
analogues of this type. These compounds show the same cellgrowth
altering abilities of the parent molecules although the
resources available to me did not facilitate the kind of
evaluation necessary to reach detailed conclusions of the
precise actions of these compounds.
7. I have developed other compounds whose chemical structure is
quite different from that of either hormones X or Y that seem to
have similar effects on cancer cells.
8. The exact mechanism of
action of these compounds must at this point remain an object of
speculation, since I did not possess the funds or the facilities
to properly investigate this issue. Based on the chemical
structure of the compounds, however, it is reasonable to assume
that, on a cellular level, they act in a manner similar to that
of steroid hormones and retinoids (such as vitamin A). This
means that they probably penetrate the cell membrane and are
then translocated to the nucleus where they either promote or
inhibit the expression of genes which regulate the cell growth
cycle. This is a much more sophisticated approach and stands in
total contradistinction to the mode of action of virtually all
existing anti-cancer drugs which are really little more than
cellular poisons designed to kill off all rapidly dividing
cells. Such a shotgun approach is responsible for the sometimes
horrendous side effects associated with conventional
The compounds that I have developed have
obvious application in the non-toxic therapy of cancer and other neoplastic diseases. They also threaten to give medical science
completely new insights into the interaction of the ageing process
with various disease states. If the melatonin–hormone X–hormone Y
axis is indeed responsible for regulating what cells do at
particular stages in their life cycle, then we can explain why, for
instance, certain cancers tend to occur at particular points in
people’s lives. As we age, perturbations in the levels of hormones X
and Y occur.
The hypothesis would predict the
incidence of cancer to vary over the span of a person’s life as
well. Indeed, that is precisely what we observe clinically. As we
age, the incidence of various cancers increases. This may be due to
the fact that the levels of hormones X and/or Y are no longer
sufficient to maintain certain cells in a differentiated state, or
that the immune system, whose own cells depend on specific amounts
of X and Y, can no longer perform their function of eliminating
cancer cells properly.
Finally, although it is too early to be talking seriously about a
fountain of youth, I believe that hormones X and Y represent the
first steps toward unraveling the mystery of why certain organisms
and tissues age. Unlike melatonin, the compounds that I have
synthesized represent the first patentable drugs that actually have
the potential of reversing or at least slowing the much-dreaded
biological clock. They are the first non-steroidal, non-proteinaceous,
non-retinoid hormonally active substances other than melatonin and
thyroid hormone known to affect cell growth and differentiation in
Furthermore, I have discovered that
analogues of both hormones X and Y exist in nature and can be
prepared, for example, from certain plants. These substances can be
incorporated into over-the-counter products such as cosmetics and
vitamin preparations without the difficulty of surmounting
regulatory hurdles. The impact, for instance, of a wrinkle cream
which actually thickens the skin and returns cell turnover rates to
levels found in a twenty-year-old should be obvious, especially
since today’s cosmetic preparations are mainly designed to cover up
the effects of ageing.
This leads me to question whether ancient legends of fantastic life
span for humans may not have a basis in reality. For example,
thousands of years prior to the biblical era, a Sumerian legend
relates the tale of a hero-type figure by the name of Gilgamesh who
traveled far and wide in his quest for eternal life. He finally
found a plant growing under water that was able to bestow the
immortality that Gilgamesh sought. As the tale goes, however,
instead of consuming the plant, he fell asleep. During his slumber,
a snake ate the plant—hence the mythological explanation for snakes
constantly shedding and renewing their skin. The moral lesson of the
story is, I suppose, "you snooze, you lose". Due to Gilgamesh’s
carelessness, humankind was denied the secret of eternal life.2
Alas, mythological descriptions of the "plant," if that is what it
was, are not sufficient to make a positive identification.
One would have thought that a student capable of doing research such
as this would be a cause for great enthusiasm at any medical school.
My faculty advisor described me as "the most motivated student he
has ever had." Alas, however, I would soon learn that there were
individuals who considered me a threat rather than a prodigy, and I
was soon to be plunged into a confrontation with forces that, at the
time, I could not comprehend.
Between my first and second year of medical school, I was summoned
to the office of a school administration official. Conversation
quickly turned to my research. This raised my interest, as this
official’s duties did not include oversight of student research
programs. He declined to answer when I asked the identity of the
person that had informed him of my work. He asked why I had decided
to create my own research project rather than simply signing on to
one of the many existing projects offered by faculty members. This
was, in his words "what most students did." I answered that I was
not "most" students and that I had entered medicine because I wanted
to find new solutions to problems that conventional research had
failed to find.
Rather than eliciting praise and
encouragement, my answer only seemed to make him impatient and
agitated. He enquired as to what was wrong with the available
research projects. I responded that they were mundane and too
limited by conventional paradigms to yield anything of importance in
our battle with disease. I now went on the offensive and asked what
was wrong with my research, especially in light of the fact that I
was bringing money and positive publicity to the school. He replied
that "of course there was nothing wrong", and this concluded our
meeting. I could not help but be left with the impression that this
official did not accomplish his aims. My inquiries to other students
revealed that no one else had undergone such an experience.
This encounter was a turning point in my sojourn through medical
school and the subsequent campaign of behind-the-scenes persecution
and harassment levelled against me left me thinking that someone was
taking lessons from the Malleus Maleficarum.
One day I was summoned to the dean’s office and told that there was
"something wrong" with my performance in a particular class. Since
my grades had been good in this class up till that point, I was
taken aback. I asked the dean to tell me precisely what I was doing
wrong and who had made the criticism. I also asked why the person
making the complaint had taken it to the dean instead of addressing
me directly as per school protocol. He refused to answer and became
agitated. I replied that if indeed I was doing something wrong I had
the right to know the precise nature of the complaint as well as the
identity of the person making it. The dean’s reply was that I had no
such right because his office was not a courtroom. This was to
become a fairly standard line of defense for the medical school
Despite my initial good grades and evaluations, the situation
deteriorated as I progressed through clinical clerkships. Despite
the fact that my performance outshone that of many other students, I
found myself receiving negative evaluations. Many of these
evaluations were from individuals that I never served under, and
hence, were pure fabrication. On other evaluation forms, the
signature of the evaluator was either absent altogether or was so
illegible that even the clerkship coordinator claimed not to know
who the person was. This was an obvious attempt to shield the
individual from litigation. Protesting this kind of outright fraud
to medical school administration fell on deaf ears, and only
resulted in new criticism charging that I was being "defensive." In
classic witch-hunt fashion, any attempts by me to show that the
charges against me were false were only reinterpreted as additional
evidence of my guilt or even psychopathology.
I was referred to a psychologist and put
through a battery of personality inventories. When these came back
normal, the school administration simply ignored the results and
proceeded to make me jump through an infinite series of new hoops in
order to make me appreciate my status as persona non-grata. This
treatment finally resulted in my leaving medical school partway
through my third year. My antagonists realized that I could not
afford legal aid and thus felt secure that their machinations could
not be effectively countered.
Other more mysterious goings-on seemed to swirl around my research
while at medical school. One faculty member refused to address me in
the halls and made a point of walking out during conferences when I
presented my research. On more than one occasion, I entered my lab
to find that my possessions had been searched. To top things off, I
received phone calls from someone claiming to be my friend. This
person informed me that things would "only get worse" for me at
medical school unless I "stopped playing God". He refused to give
his name or to explain precisely what he meant by his admonition.
As one can imagine, my leaving medical school was like lifting a
huge weight from my shoulders, despite the fact that I had to
discontinue my research. The oncologist that I had worked with later
perished ostensibly of a heart attack while on vacation.
Since I cannot show that this was anything but a natural occurrence,
I leave it to the reader to decide. After his death, the hospital
where he was employed no longer funded my project citing "other
When all is said and done, what are we to make of all this? Was I
the target of industrial espionage? If so, they got nothing, as I
have always made a point of carrying my lab notebooks with me at all
times and even my faculty advisor was not made privy to the chemical
formulas of the compounds that I was developing.
Was this something entirely different? Was it an attempt to simply
quash my research? If so, did this involve only officials at the
medical school or did it go higher? What could have evoked such a
concerted hate campaign against, of all people, a lowly medical
student? Did "they" know something about the direction and
ramifications of my research that even I did not know at the time?
Given the vitriol directed against me, I cannot help but think that
I am on the right track—to something. I suppose that I should thank
my tormentors for inadvertently confirming what they did not let me
have time to confirm in the lab.
If the goal of the powers that be was to marginalize me, then they
have succeeded, at least for the time being—I am unemployable and my
life has been reduced to financial ruin. I have pursued education in
other fields. I am currently attempting to pursue my research
privately since it remains patentable. I have made arrangements that
all proprietary details of the research be made public in the event
of my untimely demise, although I believe that my tormentors have
been quite happy keeping me jobless and impoverished.
Since becoming an avid NEXUS reader a couple of years ago, I have
interpreted my plight in a different light and have begun to ask
questions that would never have occurred to me in medical school. Up
until recently, I have operated under the naïve premise that the
purpose of the health care industry was to eliminate disease and
promote human well being. NEXUS readers know better. I leave readers
with the following questions and welcome feedback:
What would the
implications be for the health care juggernaut if most illnesses
associated with advancing age could be eliminated by having everyone
take one pill daily?
What would happen to our beleaguered social
security system if the human life span could be doubled?
be the impact on organized religion if one of the two certainties of
life—i.e. death—was no longer a certainty?
1. Walter Pierpaoli, William
Regelson and Carol Colman, 1995, The Melatonin Miracle, Pocket
Books, New York. See also William Regelson and Carol Colman,
1996, The Superhormone Promise, Pocket Books, New York
2. N.K. Sanders, 1972, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Penguin,