Cancer Clinic Linked To AIDS Is Closed
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) _ A controversial cancer clinic has been closed by the Bahamian government after recent tests in the United States revealed patients were receiving a blood serum infected with hepatitis and a virus linked to AIDS, officials said.
The Immunology Research Center in Freeport is run by experimental zoologist Lawrence Burton, who claimed to have developed a secret serum derived from donor blood that uses the body’s own disease-fighting immunological system to combat cancer.
The order to close the clinic Wednesday came three weeks after tests by a Tacoma, Wash., pathologist disclosed that two of the center’s patients were given serum infected with a virus known in the United States as HTLV-III. That virus is believed to cause the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.
The pathologist, Dr. Samuel Insalaco, also found indications the donors of the blood used for the serum suffered from hepatitis B, an often fatal liver disease.
The center was closed as ″a serious health hazard,″ according to Bahamian Minister of Health Dr. Norman Gay.
In a news release, Gay said the decision was based upon an investigation by the Pan American Health Organization, which first suggested eight years ago that the clinic be closed.
Burton opened the clinic in the Bahamas in 1976 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration refused to approve use of his serum.
Burton says he has treated more than 3,000 people, including many Americans, who paid up to $10,000.
Insalaco, a Tacoma General Hospital pathologist, entered the case when two Washington state residents asked him to test vials of the serum Burton gave them. The patients had heard rumors that the serum carried hepatitis .
Dr. Jerome Katterhagen, also of Tacoma General, said all 18 vials of the serum proved positive for hepatitis B. Eight had antibodies to HTLV-III, indicating the blood donors had been in contact with the virus.
The two patients had already injected themselves with the serum before the test results were obtained, but there is no way of knowing if they will develop AIDS or hepatitis, Katterhagen said.