Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, and the Trophoblastic Theory of Cancer

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This article is copyrighted by Jeffrey Dach MD, 2013
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Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, and the Trophoblastic Theory of Cancer

By Jeffrey Dach, MD

Cancer treatment with chemotherapy yields disappointing results for most cancer cell types.  Perhaps we should be exploring alternative cancer treatments, such as one proposed by Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, a keynote speaker at a medical conference I attended five years ago in Denver Colorado (Boulderfest conference July 17-20 2008.)

Nicholas Gonzalez, MD

Nicholas Gonzalez MD  is actively engaged in medical practice in Manhattan where he treats advanced cancer successfully with high dose oral pancreatic enzymes.  This treatment regimen is based on the trophoblastic theory of cancer originally proposed by Scottish embryologist John Beard (1858-1924), and resurrected by William Donald Kelley, DDS (1926-2005)

John Beard and the Trophoblast

John Beard (1858-1924) was a Scottish embryologist who used the light microscope to study developmental embryology as well as cancer pathology.  In 1905, Beard was the first to report that trophoblast cells act and behave in a manner identical to cancer cells, acting invasively, and inducing their own blood supply.

What are Trophoblasts?

In the pregnant mammal, trophoblasts are the infiltrative components of the developing embryo which forms the placenta.  This invasive, infiltrative behavior is very similar to the way cancer cells infiltrate and invade surrounding tissues.  These trophoblast cells are known to produce human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).  In fact, production of HCG is the basis for the widely used pregnancy test.  If cancer cells and trophoblast cells are similar, one would expect cancer cells to also produce HCG.  That is exactly what they do.  This was reported in 1995 by Hernan Acevedo, PhD, and published in Cancer.  He found that every cancer produces HCG, same as the trophoblast cells of pregnancy.

Since John Beard's time 100 years ago, modern molecular biologists have found even more similarities between trophoblasts and malignant cancer cells.  Dr. C. Ferretti, in the October 2006 issue of Human Reproduction Update, states both cancer and trophoblast cells share the same molecular circuitry for their proliferative, invasive and migratory capacities.

CT Antigens Discovered

Another twist to the story is the recent discovery of a new class of human tumor antigens called CT (cancer/testis) antigens.  About 90 genes have been found having messenger RNA expression in both germ cells (testis) and cancer cells, and no expression in otherwise normal cells.  This is further evidence linking the trophoblast cells, which are in fact germ cells (also called stem cells), with cancer.

Recent advances in our understanding of molecular biology have shown that John Beard was quite correct to point out the similarity between placental trophoblast cells and malignant cancer cells.  Beard's forgotten predictions in the early 1900′s seem to have an uncanny way of resurfacing 100 years later.

A Diagram Showing the Trophoblast (labeled tr)

The trophoblast cells in the developing ovum are shown in the diagram below.  The trophoblast tissue is labeled tr.  Notice the finger-like extensions of the trophoblast cells which invade the endometrium to form the placenta.  The layer of trophoblasts induces the maternal blood vessels (shown in red below).

tr = trophoblast invading endometrium

[Section through ovum embedded in the uterine decidua. Semidiagrammatic. Above Image courtesy of wikimedia commons.

Legend for the above diagram: am. Amniotic cavity. b.c. Blood-clot. b.s. Body-stalk. ect. Embryonic ectoderm. ent. Entoderm. mes. Mesoderm. m.v. Maternal vessels. tr. Trophoblast. u.e. Uterine epithelium. u.g. Uterine glands. y.s. Yolk-sac.]

Pancreatic Enzymes on Day 56

On day 56 of gestation, John Beard observed that the trophoblast cells transform from a malignant, invasive cell type into a mature well behaved cell type.  This day 56 also coincides with the appearance of enzyme granules (zymogen granules) in the fetal pancreas.  Obviously, since all nutrition comes from the maternal blood supply, the developing fetus has no need for pancreatic enzymes which are needed to digest food consumed after birth.  Beard theorized there must be an alternative function for the pancreatic enzymes.  He theorized that the appearance of pancreatic enzymes was no accident, and that the most likely explanation was that they were responsible for the transformation of the trophoblast cells behavior from "malignant" to a "benign", thereby suggesting the use of digestive enzymes to control cancer cells.

Selective Activity of Enzymes on Cancer Cells

The selective activity of trypsin on cancer cells could be explained by the selective digestion of proteins based on isomer structure.  Cancer proteins have a right hand isomer structure, and proteins in normal tissue with left hand isomers.(link)  However, it is widely known that in cases of acute pancreatitis with release of pancreatic enzymes into the retroperitoneal space, there is obvious autodigestion of human tissue.

A number of studies in both animal models and humans have actually confirmed the utility of pancreatic enzyme for cancer treatment. (link)  An excellent review of recent research confirming John Beard's work as well as the value of enzyme treatments for cancer can be found hereA Critique of the Kelley Nutritional-Metabolic Cancer Program by Melina A. Roberts BSc. From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients June 2003

About the same time as John Beard's early work, Madam Curie's (1867-1934) work treating cancer with radiation took the spotlight, and captured the imagination of the media and the public.  John Beard's work on the trophoblast theory was dismissed by mainstream medical science and almost forgotton.

However, the leading biochemist Ernst Krebs wrote this very important 1950 paper supporting the trophoblast theory of cancer titled, "The Unitarian or Trophoblastic Thesis of Cancer."

William Donald Kelley Resurrects John Beard's Work

Years later in the 1960′s, William Kelly discovered Beard's forgotten papers, and resurrected the treatment of cancer with pancreatic enzymes.  Kelly had considerable success treating patients with this alternative cancer treatment approach.  However, Kelly was a dentist, and bitterly opposed by mainstream medicine, and as expected, had difficulties with the authorities.  Kelly was convicted of practicing medicine without a license in 1970, his dental license was suspended in 1976, and he died on Jan. 30, 2005 at the age of 79.

Nicholas Gonzalez' Research

William Kelly







[Image: William Kelly courtesy of Peter Barry Chowka]

In 1981, during the Kelly's early years, a medical student at Cornell Medical School by the name of Nicholas Gonzalez was given a summer project to interview William Donald Kelly and evaluate his results with cancer patients using the pancreatic enzyme treatment.   Gonzalez did a retrospective review of 1300 patients who had been treated over a 20-year period with the Kelley protocol with enzymes, diet and nutritional support.

Gonzalez was so impressed with the data, and the superior patient outcomes, that this summer project expanded into a book, and later adopted as his own life's work.

Continuing after Kelly, Nicholas Gonzalez MD carried on with his legacy at a Manhattan office, documenting remarkable success over the past decade or so.  Selected case reports from the Gonzalez Manhattan office show dramatic clinical results not possible with conventional mainstream cancer treatment.  This information is posted on the Dr Gonzalez web site.

In 1999, Gonzalez published a 2 year pilot study of 10 patients with inoperable advanced pancreatic cancer treated with large doses of orally ingested pancreatic enzymes.  Results showed 80% survival after 1 year, 45% survival after 2 years and 36% survival after 3 years. (Gonzalez and Isaacs, 1999).  These results are far above the 25% one year,  10% two year, and 6 % three year survival reported in the National Cancer Data Base for inoperable pancreatic cancer (Niederhuber, Brennan and Menck, 1995).

Shortly after this, Gonzalez received a $1.4 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health for further study on enzyme therapy and pancreatic cancer. The study was conducted at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York under the supervision of the NCI and with approval from the FDA.  The outcome of this study has not yet been published.

Listen to Nicholas Gonzalez MD lecture exerpt on Beard and the Trophoblastic Theory of Cancer and Treatment with Pancreatic Enzymes.  Click here to listen to recording:

Otto Warburg

Otto Warburg made important contributions to the understanding of the metabolic activity of cancer.  All cancers, as well as trophoblast cells have a high glucose utilization using the primitive glycolysis pathway.  They tend not to use oxidative phosphorylation and thrive in a low oxygen environment.  This is known as the Warburg Effect.  Recent work has built on Warburg's ideas using inhibitors of glycolysis such as 3 bromopyruvate to kill cancer cells by stopping glycolysis.

Here are two articles describing inhibition of cancer cell glyocolysis with 3 bromo pyruvate:
fulll text "Novel therapy for liver cancer: direct intraarterial injection of a potent inhibitor of ATP production". Geschwind JF, Ko YH, Torbenson MS, Magee C, Pedersen PL (2002).
Cancer Res. 62 (14): 3909–13. PMID 12124317.
full text REVIEW Glycolysis inhibition for anticancer treatment
H Pelicano1, DS Martin2,{, R-H Xu3 and P Huang1 Oncogene (2006) 25, 4633–4646

Others have used insulin induced hypoglycemia to starve cancer cells of their glucose substrate.  Avid glucose uptake is the basis of modern PET (positron emission tomography) imaging of the body which is capable of showing cancer deposits with radiolabeled 17-Flouro-deoxyglucose.

Aneuploidy – and Confined Placental Mosaicism

Recently there has been resurgence of interest in aneuploidy and cancer championed by Peter Duesberg in Chromosomal Chaos and Cancer. [P. Duesberg (2007) Scientific American 296, May 52-59].  Aneuploidy or abnormal and multiple sets of chomosomes is commonly found in cancer, and also in the placenta.  Using ultrasound guided chorionic villous sampling, it has been discovered that between 2-5% of placental samples show aneuploid cells; this is called confined placental mosaicism, which apparently does not affect the developing embryo.

No Coexistence of Cancer with Circulating Enzymes of Pancreatitis

One last point I am compelled to mention.  During my 30 year career as a radiologist much of my time was spent reading images of metastatic cancer on CAT scans.  One of the things I noticed was that I never witnessed the presence of metastatic cancer in patients who had pancreatic enzymes circulating freely in the bloodstream from acute or chronic diffuse pancreatitis.  Excluded of course was focal pancreatitis caused by an obstructed pancreatic duct due to a small pancreatic cancer.  Thus I had independently confirmed the major tenet of John Beard and Ernst Krebs many years before I even heard of the trophoblastic theory of cancer.

Cancer of Small Bowel Relatively Rare

Another observation most experienced radiologists and surgeons will make is the relative rarity of neoplasm involving the small bowel compared to the relative common appearance (50 times more common)  of neoplasm in the colon and the stomach.  Ernst Krebs makes this same observation in his landmark 1950 paper on the unified trophoblast theory of cancer, and Krebs suggests that pancreatic enzymes released into the duodenum at the duct of Wirsung and Santorinin are responsible for this 50 times reduction in small bowel cancer.

by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr.,  Ernst T. Krebs, Sr., and Howard H. Beard
(Reprinted From the Medical Record, 163:149-174, July 1950)

The age-adjusted death rate for cancer of the colon is 47 times higher than cancer of the small bowel, at 0.4 for small bowel and 18.8 for colon cancer per 100,000 men and women per year. (NIH NCI SEER web site

NIH Grant Proposal to Study Cancer

The NIH (National Institute of Health) has spent literally trillions over four decades on failed cancer research.  It is time to take a different approach with a few proposals to investigate the trophoblast theory of cancer.

A widely used technique in molecular biology is the tracer study.  The older tracer method involved the use of Carbon 14 radio-labeling.  The newer method uses insertion of the green florescent protein (GFP) into the protein one wishes to study.

Carbon 14 Radio-Labeled Trypsin

The proposed study can be done by using Carbon 14 radio-labeling of key amino acids in the pancreatic enzyme, trypsin, and feeding these radio-labeled amino acids to the pigs used to harvest the trypsin for later use.  Then administer the radio-labeled trypsin enzymes to an animal model of cancer looking for the distribution of the radio-label in the sacrificed animals. If there is an effect on the cancer cells, I would expect to find the radio-labeled enzymes at the surface of the cancer cells.

GFP Green Florescent Protein

Another more elegant approach would be to genetically modify the pancreatic trypsin enzyme in mice by adding a green florescent marker gene (GFP), a common technique used in molecular biology.  If pancreatic enzymes control the trophoblast, then the experiments should confirm the presence of the florescent marker at the trophoblast cells after day 56 in the developing embryo.

To study cancer, the green florescent gene (GFP) can be inserted into DNA of the animals (usually pigs) used to manufacture the pancreatic enzymes.  These labeled enzymes  which can then be administered to mice pretreated with cancer cells.  The survival of the treated vs. control mice as well as the fate of the labeled enzymes would be useful to know about.  If the enzymes are having an effect on the cancer cells, then I would expect the florescent label or radio-label to be found at the tumor site.

Using the NIH to Find a Cure for Cancer

A few decades ago, Richard Nixon, declared a war against cancer and ramped up funding for NIH research which mostly went towards proving the idea that cancer was caused by a virus.  This line of research expended massive amounts of money and ended a dismal failure.  A new and more promising direction for cancer research would be to investigate the mysteries of the trophoblast which shares so many features in common with cancer cells.  We now have the molecular tools that John Beard a century ago could only imagine.  How do we get the NIH to pursue this?  Use political pressure by contacting your congressman and asking them to push the NIH to fund the research.


Advances in molecular biology now make it fairly straightforward to validate and expand on the early work of Scottish embryologist John Beard, Ernst Krebs and Otto Warburg.  The research costs for such a program would be minimal and the potential gains enormous.

For an extensive list of References go to the original article location on Dr. Jeffrey Dach's website.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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