Detailed Summary of Life and Theories of Emanuel Revici
Emanuel Revici, M.D, who died at the age of 101, January 9, 1998, developed a system of individually guided lipid-based chemotherapy. Revici received his doctorate in medicine and surgery from the University of Bucharest in 1920 and subsequently worked at a Medical Clinic of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Bucharest50.
In the mid-1920s, he concentrated on biochemical research, specializing in the relationship between lipids and normal and abnormal cellular metabolism. Following resettlement in France in 1936, he continued his studies at academic and hospital laboratories. During this period, five papers deposited in the National Academy of Sciences51 summarized his observations about the influence of lipids in pathological pain and cancer.
His clandestine service with the French Resistance during World War II obliged leaders of the underground to provide him sanctuary outside of Europe52. Accordingly, he resettled in Mexico City in 1941, advancing his studies for the duration of the war. He established and directed a free clinic, mainly attended by cancer patients.
In 1946, the dean of the medical school of Chicago University invited him to bring his research into the U.S52. After the dean’s resignation, Revici accepted an invitation to open an experimental cancer clinic in New York City. He served as scientific director of that clinic known as the Institute of Applied Biology (IAB) from 1946 until it closed in 1990.
During the early European years of his career, his theories attracted support, notably in France. After he established himself in New York City, however, most of the U. S. medical community dismissed or reacted indifferently to his findings. Nevertheless, a small number of scientists and clinical researchers regarded his ideas as sound and his therapeutic agents as effective. Two examples are cited below:
- Professor Joseph Maisin (d. 1971), Director of the Institute of Cancer, University of Louvain, Belgium and former Director of the International Union against Cancer, found Revici's medications effective in numerous terminal cases refractive to other treatment53.
- Gerhard N. Schrauzer, Ph.D. (Professor of Chemistry, University of California, San Diego), an authority on selenium, credited Revici with "having discovered pharmacologically active selenium compounds of very low toxicity", appraising him as "an innovative medical genius, outstanding chemist and a highly creative thinker54".
Conceptual Basis for Treatment
Revici's conceptual thinking not only broadened in scope, but also changed in terminology as it evolved. According to Professor Mark Noble, there is no single work by or about him that is definitive; rather, selective writings by Revici and others must be consulted.
As an outgrowth of observations and experiments with lipids associated with "pathological" pain, he conceived a theory for categorizing and analyzing natural phenomena. He termed this theory, "Dualism" or "Biological Dualism" when applied specifically to life forms55. In its most evolved state, Revici's dualism extended beyond the realm of biology to the evolution of biological entities and the organization of matter.
Revici postulated that all matter organizes into proper entities, and that each entity has its own morphological and functional identity, consisting of a primary electropositive part and a secondary electronegative part bound by the principal part. In complex formations, he held that there is a hierarchic progressive series in which the secondary part may change as needed to protect the principal part but the principal part never changes.
Revici further postulated that all manifestations of nature result essentially from two kinds of forces: electrostatic and quantum. Electrostatic forces are characterized by positive and negative charges that tend to annihilate each other, while quantum forces tend to oppose this reciprocal annihilation by creating organization such as movement. Because of the tendency of electrostatic forces toward annihilation, he related them to entropy, the loss of order. Because of the tendency of quantum forces to organize, he related these forces to "negentropy", the increase of order. For biological manifestations of entropy and negentropy, Revici often used the terms "catabolic" and "anabolic", respectively. Thus, he characterized catabolic as processes that involved the liberation of energy and the use of stored resources in contrast to anabolic manifestations as constructive and proliferative processes.
During his early years, he found that some patients reported pain in the morning while others suffered at night. Some patients relieved pain by eating, but for others, pain was intensified by eating55. Revici surmised that this could be associated with an underlying physiologic cycling. Using techniques available during the first half of this century, he studied a variety of aspects of blood and urine. He found that healthy individuals had daily rhythmic fluctuations in fundamental physical parameters, such as urinary pH and levels of free potassium in the blood. Cancer patients, in contrast, did not have these normal fluctuations and exhibited patterns of either acidic or alkaline imbalances.
He investigated the possibility of relieving cancer by altering the pH of the painful areas and found that small amounts of sodium bicarbonate for patients with acidic imbalance temporarily ameliorated pain. In contrast, sodium bicarbonate worsened the pain of a patient in alkaline imbalance and dilute phosphoric acid yielded approximately opposite results. Believing that small amounts of dilute base or acid could not change the entire body’s acid-base balance, he experimented further. He placed platinum electrodes into the painful areas of patients with superficial tumors, non-painful regions of the tumor mass and normal tissue. He concluded that the painful areas could be rapidly and specifically altered by the ingestion of small amounts of acid or base and that the pH of these areas was different from the rest of the body.
Subsequently, he developed a method of altering pH with lipids. First, he determined that lipids were more than greasy, water-insoluble substances extractable in ether. He redefined these important substances, describing the importance of the polar (charged) and non-polar regions of these molecules which is a key component of currently accepted definitions.
Seeking to develop a better way to analyze the effect of lipids, he initiated a systematic study of the effects of the elements on bodily functions and categorized the elements as inductive of anabolic or catabolic metabolism. These terms became somewhat interchangeable with his categorization of the induction of an acid/alkaline metabolism by elements.
With continued studies of the elements, he found that within a vertical series of the Periodic Table of the Elements, elements acted similarly. Thus, he deduced that their valence shell in part, determined their bioactivity. Based upon his analysis of elements in different levels of organization (i.e., cell, tissue, organ, system) and the effects of specific elements on cellular pathology, he suggested that the concentration of an element in different organizational levels was both precisely regulated by and a critical determinant of normal and pathological states55.
In contrast to the prevailing wisdom concerning carcinogens and other bioactive molecules, he observed that many of these molecules contained adjacent carbon atoms that carried identical charges55. The concepts that Revici developed from his study of played a crucial role in his design of medicines.
Some of his findings predate ideas that are now widely accepted. According to Professor Noble, Revici described leukotrienes and their crucial role in inflammation 20 years or more before they were described in the literature56-57. Typically, he saw these compounds as a small part of a much larger picture. He subsequently described the important role of bioactive lipids in the early stages of cellular and systemic host defense processes, deducing that intervention by lipids at this level might drastically alter outcome.58
Revici also proposed that damage to any organism by disease was frequently caused not by the pathogenic focus, but by the body's defense mechanisms as well59. He thus devoted himself to devising medications that would restore normal bodily functions. He combined the properties of elements that alter different levels of function with the ability of lipids to cause longer-lasting alterations. He did this by conjugating elements with lipids to create a large series of therapeutic compounds55 and anticipated the interest in lipids as carriers of pharmaceutically useful compounds60.
Independent validations of Revici's findings accumulated over the years concerning the bioactivity of leukotriene regulators of inflammatory and allergic reactions, the development of a safe, effective means of lipid transport, and the use of selenium in a virtually non-toxic form to treat cancer61. It now also appears that he predated his peers in administering omega-3 fatty acids derived from marine fish oil.
Revici sought to disseminate his theories and therapeutic results through published papers in peer-reviewed journals62-63, presentations before scientific and medical organizations64-65 and the writing of a textbook. Revici’s 772-page textbook, Research in Physiopathology as Basis for Guided Chemotherapy, With Special Application to Cancer, was published by D. Van Nostrand Co. in 1961; it describes the theories of his treatment and summarizes his life’s work.
Correspondence and articles critical of his method of cancer treatment were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1945 and 194966-68.
In a section on unproven methods of cancer management, the American Cancer Society (ACS) alluded to evaluations of his therapy at the University of Wisconsin and Chicago University in the mid-1940s69. IAB states that informal visits to Revici’s Mexican clinic by physicians associated with the University of Wisconsin were mistaken for a formal investigation. According to IAB, Revici never treated patients at the University of Chicago70.
A 1962 unpublished description detailing Revici's approach to cancer treatment describes a meeting with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to explore a prospective evaluation71. According to the IAB, NCI declined, and Revici collaborated with a clinical appraisal by oncologists associated with two medical institutions in New York City. Their protocol divided the oncologists into two groups - one group observed patients who were refractory to mainstream therapy and were treated by Revici and the other group administered Revici’s treatment at their own hospital. The groups united to later form the Clinical Appraisal Group (CAG); however, each group was to publish their conclusions separately. Instead, a combined two-page summary report of the CAG evaluation was published in JAMA in November, 1965, and concluded that no benefit resulted from his treatment in the 33 patients studied72. This conclusion devastated Revici’s practice52, and his rebuttal was rejected by JAMA53, but a condensed version of that rebuttal was reported in the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) on unconventional cancer treatments. The condensed rebuttal states that Revici "presented summaries of patient records that he claimed showed objective responses to treatment, contradicting the CAG's interpretation of the same data," and that "he noted, among other things, that several patients in the study had tumor remissions that the study group allegedly failed to recognize."53
In a recent revision of its unproven methods list, ACS stated an objection by Revici that had been omitted by the OTA, "that he had been excluded from the group’s [CAG’s] deliberations." 69 Documents did show that the two clinical assessment groups violated the protocol by merging into one group and signing their names to one report73.
A later assessment was attempted in 1990 by Seymour Brenner, a board-certified radiation oncologist in private practice in New York City. He presented a retrospective "best case study" of Revici's cancer patients before the OTA. Although not subjected to rigorous peer review, Brenner documented and discussed 10 cases that he believed to be in remarkable remission53.
The OTA report also cited an earlier unpublished paper by Robert A. Ravich, M.D., written while a junior colleague at the IAB. This paper summarized the results in all 1047 cases treated at the IAB from its founding to 1955. The OTA devoted considerable space to discussion of Ravich's review, detailing his criteria for inclusion of patients, his classification of treatment groups according to Revici's method for determining the predominant anabolic or catabolic imbalance present in each case, and his tabulation of objective and subjective responses to treatment53.
(The two reviews by Drs. Brenner and Ravich are included in the Summary of Research section of this Web site.)
2Cohen M. Revici Summary. Unpublished Review provided to former The University of Texas Center for Alternative Medicine. 1998.