1 of this article originally appeared in our August/September
Part 2 was in print in October
Part 3 is an online publication
only, August 2006.
Dr. Emanuel Revici died during his 101st year on January 9, 1998,
after a career that bridged seven decades in the history of modern
medicine. Since the 1980s, mainstream research has independently confirmed
a number of his therapeutic breakthroughs.
Dr. Revici was the first
physician to develop selenium compounds low enough in toxicity to
give cancer patients doses far in excess of safety limits for ordinary
of selenium.1 He was among the first research clinicians
to treat cancer with naturally derived Omega 3 fatty acids.2 He
also appears to have been a pioneer in utilizing lipids to transport
cytotoxic agents through
the bloodstream to sites of abnormal tissue.3
Still awaiting mainstream
corroboration are numerous reports of patients with advanced cancer
who obtained long-term remission under his treatment after failing
to benefit from any other therapy.
New York's Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) revoked
Revici's license to practice in 1993. The formal charges against
him amounted to
a sharp divergence in approach from conventional oncology practice. The state
department returned the license in late 1997.
(In New York, the health department – OPMC – revokes the licenses
of physicians, the education department processes applications to restore
George Pataki wrote a letter in support. New York Assemblyman Sheldon Silver,
Speaker of the Assembly, issued a legislative resolution posthumously
lauding Revici’s accomplishments and devotion to patients.
The behind-the-scenes campaign to reinstate Revici’s license has droll
and infuriating moments worth telling, but it is too long to relate here.
This article, in three parts, concentrates on Revici's efforts to publish
and on evaluations of his therapy. The history of Revici's
publications and evaluations, extending back to World War II, exemplifies
the problems that most originators of non-standard approaches to cancer
in seeking mainstream understanding and trials of their therapy.
Emanuel Revici, born September 6, 1896 in Romania, received his doctorate in
medicine and surgery from the University of Bucharest in 1920.4 Teaching
himself advanced chemistry in the mid-1920s, he became absorbed in exploring
the relationship between lipids and cellular metabolism. Eager to further his
he sampled the facilities available at the foremost European research centers,
opting for Paris in 1936, where he pursued his studies at hospital clinics
and laboratories directed by academic physicians.
Revici's Parisian years ended in March 1941. The head of the Paris police department,
a fast friend, warned him that he could no longer protect him from the German
occupation forces rounding up the city's Jews. (Revici was Jewish.) Shortly
after the warning, Revici fled to Nice and spent the next six months in southern
France as a leader of the Resistance.
Revici had discovered a lipid substance that staunched bleeding within minutes,
enabling wounded Underground fighters to avoid notice by the Gestapo, but the
Gestapo soon tumbled onto his clandestine activities. Comrades in the Resistance
spirited him overland into Portugal and from there by sea to Casablanca, Morocco,
where he boarded a ship carrying members of the Spanish Republican government – in exile after Generalissimo Franco's fascist regime controlled
Spain. On the prowl in the North Atlantic, U-boats in the German "wolf
pack" were raising their periscopes to sight the vessel, bent on torpedoing
The ship inched down the west coast
of Africa, sailing at night without lights, then steamed across the
southern Atlantic to the Bahamas, a voyage
lasting two months.
The Underground had entrusted to Revici a microfilm with information for
the Allies. At the Portuguese border, guards had detained and searched
would have executed him on the spot had they discovered the film. Patting
his body from heels to head, poking their fingers into every possible hiding
in his clothing, they never thought to pry apart the fingers of his upraised
When the ship anchored in the Bahamas, Revici was the first passenger British
intelligence officers debriefed. He delivered the microfilm and also, unexpectedly,
a roll of film showing the German submarine installations at Casablanca,
which he had snapped on his own (another impromptu act of daring, punishable
discovery by summary execution). Revici then settled in Mexico City for
the duration of the war.
In 1942, Dr. Revici converted a modern hotel in the Mexican capital into
a medical institute. With over 100 rooms, it specialized in cancer, treating
patients free. The idea and money came from a friend, Gaston Merry,
formerly European representative of E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co, the chemical
and pharmaceutical giant, headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Merry had
tracked Revici's research in Paris, where their professional relationship had
warmed into a deep friendship. After the fall of France, Merry requested reassignment
by Du Pont to Central America, sharing a house with Revici and his family in
"Our Institute," recalled Revici in 1954, when the memory was vivid, "consisted
of a clinic for outpatients, a hospital with all modern equipment, a Clinical
Laboratory, a Research Department with eight laboratories, and a section for
experimental research on animals. The staff...numbered 15 physicians and chemists,
in addition to a personnel of 60 which included nurses, helpers, and orderlies.
The records were kept in Spanish."4
Completing the picture, Revici noted: "Besides obtaining the services
of competent Mexican physicians and scientists, we were fortunate in interesting
several eminent physicians, surgeons, and scientists who were also refugees
in Mexico City...who, after investigating my background and research, joined
the Institute staff. The object of the Institute was to concentrate on following
my line of research."
While still in Romania, Revici had patented a process for refining crude
oil into a lubricant for airplane engines. "Revoil," as the product
was known, yielded him royalties that had financed his travels and research
Europe. The war had interrupted the flow of these payments (Romania fought
against the Allies), but they resumed just before the war’s end.
Revici repaid Merry, then the flow ceased permanently with the postwar
of Romania. (The Communists nationalized the oil industry, expropriating
the "Revoil" refineries.)
Dr. George Dick, dean of the University of Chicago medical school, brought
Revici to the US in 1946, promising him research facilities. Dick resigned
suddenly the next year, and Revici promptly accepted an invitation from
physicians, businessmen, and civic leaders to found an experimental cancer
clinic in New
York City.4 The clinic, named the Institute of Applied Biology
(IAB), opened later in 1947. He earned his medical license in NY by examination
in 1947 and
maintained his dual career as a scientist and physician in New York City
until his death.
Scientific Findings & Medical Applications
Revici's medical findings derived from a number of different lines of investigation,
each simple enough by itself. Interwoven, they make a complex body
of knowledge.5 The starting point was an observation Revici made
in the 1920s, while he was still in his 20s.
Cancer patients in pain showed a cycling in their levels of discomfort.
In some patients, the pain worsened in the morning; in others it intensified
night. Eating eased the pain in some, but sharpened it so much in others,
they dreaded eating. Hypothesizing that this cycling might relate to an
underlying cycling of the patients' physiology, Revici looked at various
aspects of blood
and urine (using the relatively simple technology available to him at the
time). His investigations showed that healthy persons typically had daily
fluctuations in such basic physical parameters as urinary pH and levels
of free potassium in the blood. In contrast, cancer patients had abnormal
showing either patterns of acidic imbalance or alkaline imbalance.
Further investigation found that patients in acidic imbalance could relieve
their pain temporarily by ingesting a small amount of sodium bicarbonate. But
patients in alkaline imbalance who ingested sodium bicarbonate suffered worse
pain. Repeating the experiment with dilute phosphoric acid gave roughly converse
results. Realizing that these small amounts of dilute acid or base wouldn't
change bodily pH, Revici next placed platinum electrodes in painful loci of
patients with superficial tumors, as well as in non-painful parts of the tumor
mass and in normal tissue. All these experiments led Revici to conclude that
the pH of painful local lesions was not only different from the rest of the
body, but that ingestion of small amounts of base or acid could specifically
and quickly alter these painful lesions.
As a result of these studies, Revici proposed that a crucial distinction be
made between pathological pain and what he termed "physiological pain" (a
distinction supported by many subsequent years of research). To ease pain in
his cancer patients, he then turned to developing lipidic means to change pH,
recognizing that interventions based on amino acids, ions, or proteins would
not last long enough for meaningful relief.
Before proceeding, he felt it necessary to redefine lipids (fatty
acids and sterols), which were generally regarded in the early 20th century
water-insoluble substances extractable in ether, a definition that still
appears in many biochemistry books.
Decades ahead of anyone else in the field, Revici described lipids at a molecular
level, correctly noting the importance of their polar and non-polar regions.
As his career progressed, Revici's definition guided his clinical use of lipids
by supplying an accurate structural guide for analysis of therapeutic compounds
he wished to create.
During his European years, Revici
also launched into a systematic study of the effects of different
elements on bodily function, a
research path ending in his categorization of elements as either inducing
anabolic or catabolic states of metabolism. Later, he discovered
that within a vertical
series of the Periodic Table, elements acted similarly – their valency
shell partly determined their bioactivity, and the concentration of an element
in different organizational levels of the body was both precisely regulated
and a key determinant of normal and pathological states.
By the time he had emigrated to the US, Revici's investigations into the
molecular structure of carcinogens and other bioactive molecules had revealed
bioactive molecules exhibited a charge structure in which adjacent carbon
atoms would be predicted to carry identical charges. The concepts Revici
from study of these "twin formations" (as he termed them), or energetic
centers, also played a crucial role in his design of therapeutic agents. As
with so much of his work, examination of molecular structures makes one wonder
why Revici's American peers resisted this discovery: Flip the pages of the
Merck Index, and example after example
of bioactive molecules with such an energetic configuration march by.
Repeatedly, Revici's studies on lipid function pointed the way to findings
that predate ideas widely accepted today. Decades before Bengt Samuelsson reported
on leukotrienes, earning a Nobel Prize, Revici essentially described them,
indicating their crucial role in inflammation.6,7 It was characteristic
of him, though, to view these compounds as part of a much larger picture. Instead
of choosing to concentrate on this one topic for years, he swiftly moved on
to elucidate the role of bioactive lipids in the early stages of cellular and
systemic host defense processes. Intervention by lipids at this level of the
body's defenses, he reasoned, might affect outcome and even the extent of mobilization
at other levels.
As he developed his theories and applications, Revici incorporated another
basic insight: The damage caused by disease frequently isn't done by the pathogenic
focus alone, but by the body's defense mechanisms as well. He may not have
been the first to codify this key insight as a therapeutic principle, but once
more, he seems to have preceded the mainstream in incorporating the principle
to treat patients.
Because Revici believed that these defense mechanisms might do more harm than
the pathogenic focus itself (once activated into disequilibrium), he devoted
himself to devising therapeutic agents that could restore normal bodily function.
Based on his European research, he utilized the properties of elements to alter
different levels of function and the ability of lipids to induce longer-lasting
alterations to create a large series of therapeutic compounds in which elements
were conjugated into lipids. He thereby anticipated, again by decades, interest
in lipids as carriers of pharmaceutically useful compounds.
In sum, the different paths of research Revici followed throughout his career
enabled him to pioneer, intentionally and with foresight, a great number of
therapeutic compounds designed to produce specific effects on the function
of normal and diseased tissues. Without exaggeration, then, one may say that
he developed a theory of rational drug design long before the concept entered
the imagination of the larger scientific community.
Part 1, Part
2, Part 3
1. Revici E. Research in Physiopathology
as Basis of Guided Chemotherapy: With Special Application to Cancer. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand, 1961;
also: Schrauzer GN. Selenium and cancer:
Historical developments and perspectives. In Spallholz JE, et al. (eds). Selenium
in Biology and Medicine. Westport: AVI Press, 1981:98-102.
2. Revici E, 1961, op cit.; Also: Simopoulos AP, Robinson J. The
Omega Plan. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1998:61-74.
3. Revici E, 1961, op cit.; Also: Mizushima Y, et al. Use of lipid
microspheres as a drug carrier for anti-tumor drugs. J
Pharm, Pharmacol. 1986;38:132-134.
4. Revici E, Affidavit, sworn and notarized 2/3/55. This document serves
as the basis for all biographical information included here.
5. Prof. Mark D. Noble originally prepared the section here on Revici's
scientific findings and medical applications for an appraisal of Revici
published in The Journal of Alternative
and Complementary Medicine.
1998; 4 (2).
6. Samuelsson B, Leukotrienes. Science. 1987;237:1171-1176.
7. Revici E, The influence of irradiation upon unsaturated fatty acids.
Paper read by Robert Ravich, MD, before the Sixth International Congress
of Radiology, London, 7/26/50.
Marcus A. Cohen
8 East 96th St., 1C
New York, New York 10128 USA