The world recently acknowledged the power of alternative cancer treatments by awarding the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine to Dr. James P. Allison and Dr. Tasuku Honjo for their work in immunotherapy. More specifically on checkpoint inhibitor therapies.
Until recently many in the scientific community had dismissed immunotherapy as a viable cancer treatment. Nevertheless, Allison and Honjo persevered and their breakthrough has allowed for the classification of new drugs and treatments that may help patients have run out of options.
Ironically, while many in the mainstream are barely learning of immunotherapy, a hospital in Mexico, CHIPSA Hospital, has been working with these treatments for over 38 year and often under fire from public ridicule that their treatments are strange and ineffective.
Last weekend, a group of people from all over the country gathered in San Diego for a 3-day conference to celebrate the accomplishments of CHIPSA hospital, the best of which being their 20 former patients who are all long term cancer survivors. Some of these survivors were treated at CHIPSA 30 years ago, back when people were especially suspicious of new alternative cancer treatments.
The hospital’s CEO, Ed Clay, talks about its journey as one that has required resolve:
“CHIPSA is different than other hospitals,” he said. “Its work in translation cancer research has always kept it ahead, in many ways, from the traditional hospital models. We’ve been treating cancer with Immunotherapy for nearly 38 years. We’ve been using non-traditional methods long before the world really understood the mechanisms of action, back when everyone would call us ‘quacks.’ People are skeptical of change. Many people that were hard on us at first have gotten to know that we’re serious about taking this on and making a difference. We have thick skins. We don’t take any of it personally. As as soon as we take it personally, we make it about ourselves and forget about the bigger picture of serving others.”
That positive spirit certainly emanates from Clay to his staff and the patients. What sets CHIPSA apart isn’t only it’s attention to natural treatments, but also to cultivating a personal connection with its patients.
All of the patients seem to be treated like family, as CHIPSA’s “A Celebration of Life” event made clear. The joy and camaraderie among the guests at the event was palpable, and although much was done to celebrate past accomplishments, the attention of the weekend was about the future. Some of the world’s leading cancer specialists attended the scientific forum to share their groundbreaking research that aims to change the lives of cancer patients in the years to come.
Among those specialists were Dr. Franco Marincola and Dr. Vijay Mahant, both of whom serve as advisors on CHIPSA’s scientific advisory board. Marincola is the famed former chief of immunogenetics for NIH, and is considered one of the world’s leading tumor Immunologists. Mahant is the co-founder of Auto-Genomics, a leading liquid biopsy company that is working to diagnose cancer with a blood test.
Clay and his team make sure that CHIPSA stays ahead when it comes to innovative immunotherapy research. They’ve been working with the PD1 and CTLA4 inhibitors that won Allison and Honjo the Nobel for years now, and according to Clay, they’ve moved beyond them.
“Our focus now is on how to allow our innate immune stimulating treatments to turn a tumor from cold to hot, which would allow checkpoint inhibitors to work even better. Many of the ideas that prompted people to label our doctors “quacks” are now becoming mainstream. Our doctors just don’t like to wait to be told it’s “okay” to save someone’s life.”
The focus at CHIPSA hospital is on figuring out ways for cancer patients to use their own immune systems to fight their disease. The treatments include nutritional regiments like the Gerson therapy, coffee enemas, and ozone therapy. The staff includes 23 integrative MDs, 2 naturopathic doctors, and 2 surgeons. They are currently working on a cutting-edge cryotherapy suite that will “freeze” tumors. Many of their treatments have now received FDA phase 1 clearance.
Hospitals like CHIPSA have come a long way in gaining public recognition for cancer treatments that go against the grain. For instance, Clay talks about how conventional oncologists are seeing more cancer cures now that they’ve incorporated checkpoint inhibitors into their treatments. His hope is that more and more traditional doctors will begin to recognize the importance of the immune system in fighting cancer.
“When the immune system is responsible for killing off cancer, especially the adaptive immune system, you can get real cures. And that’s what the world is looking for. Not 3-month life extensions from chemotherapy treatment. We want cures.”
That’s what CHIPSA has in common with practitioners of traditional medicine. At the end of the day, they both just want to see cancer cured. The owners of this hospital know that the medical community is stronger when they work together.
“Our goal since taking over CHIPSA,” said Clay, “has been to build bridges with the scientific community. There’s too much fighting out there.
We should be finding ways to work together instead of fighting over who is right. No one, at least that I know of, can cure every single patient, so until that happens, we need to be on the same team.”
CHIPSA will continue to use treatments that activate the immune system, and in the near future, they hope to combine those treatments with a focus on genetics as well, which will hopefully increase their chances of getting durable remissions.
For more information on Chipsa Hospital and the treatments they offer please visit them here: https://chipsahospital.org/