Evidence Based Data

Coley's Toxins Treatment

Coley’s treatment / Fever treatment is a type of immunotherapy; which focuses on boosting the immune system, so it can attack cancer cells. This treatment was developed by a surgeon named William Coley and was inspired by the observation that patients who got infections after surgery did better than those who did not. Coley attributed this finding to the fact that the infection triggered the immune system to step in and provide additional support.  For this treatment, dead bacteria is injected into the vein or directly into the tumor with the aim of creating a high temperature, thus stimulating the immune system which in turn kills cancer cells.



  • What is Coley’s treatment for cancer?

In 1891, William B. Coley administered streptococcal organisms to a patient who had an inoperable tumor. His hypothesis was that the induced infection would cause the tumor to shrink. His experiment proved successful, marking one of the first instances of immunotherapy. While serving as the head of the Bone Tumor Service at Memorial Hospital in New York for the subsequent four decades, Coley treated over 1000 cancer patients by injecting them with bacteria or bacterial products. These substances later became known as Coley’s Toxins. He, along with other physicians utilizing them, reported notable outcomes, particularly in cases of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas.

  • What is Coley’s vaccine? 

Coley’s vaccine, also known as Coley’s toxins, is a mixture containing toxins filtered from killed bacteria of species Streptococcus pyogenes and Serratia marcescens in order to induce similar therapeutic effects.

  • How do Coley’s toxins work?

Coley’s toxins are usually administered systemically to activate a patient’s immune system; typically shaking chills and fevers. There is also a simpler and equally promising approach that involves mixing cryopreserved or fresh cancer cells lysates with Coley’s toxins and using such a mixture as an anti-cancer vaccine. Treatment can be accomplished by injecting Coley’s toxins directly into one or more visible cancer metastases, which turns the existing cancer lesion into its own vaccine.

  • How long has immunotherapy been used to treat cancer?

William Coley is generally considered the father of immunotherapy. Although the link between overwhelming bacterial infections and seemingly spontaneous regression of cancer had already been suspected, Coley was the first one to describe the process of activating a patient’s immune system with bacterial toxins to mimic sepsis induced by live bacteria to treat cancer. All the way back in 1891, he first noticed that mixtures of live and inactivated Streptococcus pyogenes and Serratia marcescens could cause tumor regression in sarcoma patients.

  • What does the research say about Coley’s? 

Coley treated his first patient in 1891. By 1893, he had treated ten patients, most of whom did very well. By 1916 he had more than 80 documented cases and the toxins were being widely used by other doctors. Coley’s work remained controversial – some doctors were extremely critcal while others fully fully supported the use of his toxins. 

In 1934, The Journal of the American Medical Association reversed its original position and agreed that Coley’s Toxin might be of value: 

It appears, that undoubtedly the combined toxins of erysipelas and prodigiosus may sometimes play a significant role in preventing or retarding malignant recurrence or metastases; occasionally they may be curative in hopelessly inoperable neoplasms; . . . The Council has, for these reasons, retained Erysipelas and Prodigiosus Toxins-Coley in New and Nonofficial Remedies, with a view to facilitating further studies with the product.

While conventional orthopedic oncologists do not currently use Coley’s Toxins for the treatment of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, the field of immunology, which Coley is often credited as the father of, has developed into a sophisticated specialty. One thing is clear, Coley’s original hypothesis was correct:  the immune system can be effective in treating cancer.

The story of promising cancer therapy, and how it was discredited and buried by the cancer industry.
Stage IV Melanoma Reversed
Bailey O’Brien was diagnosed with terminal melanoma when she was just 20 years old. Eight years later, she is alive and thriving with NO signs of cancer.

Coley's Toxins Treatment- Relevant Research and News

Dr William Coley and tumour regression: a place in history or in the future

Spontaneous tumor regression has followed bacterial, fungal, viral, and protozoal infections. This phenomenon inspired the development of numerous rudimentary cancer immunotherapies, with a history spanning thousands of years. Coley took advantage of this natural phenomenon, developing a killed bacterial vaccine for cancer in the late 1800s. He observed that inducing a fever was crucial for tumor regression. Unfortunately, at the present time, little credence is given to the febrile response in fighting infections—no less cancer.

Rapidly growing tumors contain large numbers of leucocytes. These cells play a part in both defense and repair; however, reparative functions can also support tumor growth. Intratumoral infections may reactivate defensive functions, causing tumor regression.

Can it be a coincidence that this method of immunotherapy has been “rediscovered” repeatedly throughout the centuries? Clearly, Coley’s approach to cancer treatment has a place in the past, present, and future. It offers a rare opportunity for the development of a broadly applicable, relatively inexpensive, yet effective treatment for cancer. Even in cases beyond the reach of conventional therapy, there is hope.

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