Coley Toxins — The First Century

  • Helen Coley Nauts
  • John R. McLaren
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 267)


We are pleased to be able to present this summary of the first century of Dr. Coley’s toxins prepared by Helen Coley Nauts. We believe you will agree that this is an objective scientific presentation particularly when one considers the criticism, frequently unfounded, which has been given Coley’s work in the past. Those reading this chapter and working in hyperthermia will find many parallels and similarities with their frustrations and peer criticisms as noted herein. Comparable modes of action will be found for those proposed to explain the benefits of hyperthermia. Possibly with today’s more detailed understanding of the intricate complex immune system, a logical basis can be offered for the “dramatic cures” which in themselves caused skepticism, and Coley’s results can be better understood. A study of Coley’s life’s work will lead to a better understanding of the problems, obstacles and potential solutions we have in hyperthermia and also I suspect that it will help our morale to realize that we are not the first or only ones to have criticisms heaped upon sound and meticulous work. It is gratifying that in recent years Coley is being recognized as the pioneer of cancer immunology.


Serratia Marcescens Giant Cell Tumor Bacterial Toxin Concurrent Infection Cancer Research Institute 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Nauts, H.C., Fowler, G.A. & Bogatko, G.H.: A review of the influence of bacterial infection and of bacterial products (Coley’s toxins) on malignant tumors in man. Acta Medica Scandinavia 145: Supplement 276. Stockholm, April 1953.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nauts, H.D., Swift, W.E., & Colery, B.L.: The treatment of malignant tumors by bacterial toxins, as developed by the late William B. Coley, M.D., reviewed in the light of modern research. Cancer Research 6: 205–216, 1946.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Nauts, H.D.: Beneficial effects of immunotherapy (bacterial toxins) on sarcoma of the soft tissues, other than lymphosarcome. End results in 186 determinate cases with microscopic confirmation of diagnosis–49 operable, 137 inoperable. Monograph #16. Cancer Research Institute, New York, 1975.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nauts, H.D.: Osteogenic sarcoma: End results following immunotherapy (bacterial vaccines) 165 cases, or concurrent infections, inflammation or fever, 41 cases. Cancer Research Institute, Monograph #15. New York, 1975.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coley, W.B.: The treatment of cancer. Guys’ Hosp. Gaz. 26: 72–14, 1911.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Nauts, H.C., Fowler, G.A.: End results in lymphosarcoma treated by toxin therapy alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation (87 cases) or with concurrent bacterial infection (14 cases). Monograph #6, New York Cancer Research Institute, Inc.*, New York, 1969.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nauts, H.C.: The beneficial effects of bacterial infections on host resistance to cancer. End results in 449 cases. A study and abstracts of reports in the world medical literature (1775–1980) and personal communications. Cancer Research Institute, Monograph #8, 2nd Edition, 1980.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Nauts, H.C.: Bibliography of reports concerning the experimental or clinical use of Coley toxins (Streptococcus pyogenes and Serratia marmarcescens) 1893–1989. (394 references, including 143 by W.B. Coley). Published 1975,1977.1980.1982,1984,1985,1986, 1987, 1988, 1989.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Moullin, C.M.: The treatment of sarcomata by the injection of mixed toxins (Coley’s fluid). Brit. M.J. London 2: 451, 1898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Coley, W.B.: Treatment of inoperable malignant tumors with toxins of erysipelas and the Bacillus prodigiosus. Trans. Amer. Surg. Assn. 12: 183–212, 1894.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Coley, W.B.: The influence of the Roentgen ray upon the different varies of sarcoma. Trans. Amer. Surg. Assn. 20:308–309, 1902. ( Also in Med. News. 81: 542–545.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Nauts, H.C.: Beneficial effects of acute concurrent infection, inflammation, fever or immunotherapy (bacterial toxins) on ovarian and uterine cancer. Cancer Research Institute, Monograph #17. New York. 1977. (122 pp.) and conference with Calkins, 1943.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Matagne, H.: Premiers essais de traitement des tumeurs malignes inoperables par les toxines de Coley: un cas de cancer gueri. Gaz. Med. Liege 8: 401–402, 1896. (See also: Rapport de la commission qui a ete chargee d’examiner le memoire de M. le Dr. H. Matagne, a Bruxelles, initule: Premiers essais traitement des tumeurs malignes inoperables par les toxines de Coley; un cas de cancer gueri. Bull. Acad. Roy. de Med. de Belg. (Brussels) 10: 275–278, 1896.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Matagne, H.: Traitement des tumeurs malignes inoperable par l’erysipele et par les toxines de Coley. Press Med. Belge, (Brussels) 51:603–607; 624–629; 633–639, 1899.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Matagne, H.: Les toxines de Coley employees dans le but de prevenir la recidive du cancer. Press Med. Belge 54: 1–3, 1901.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Matagne, H.: Presentation de cancereux gueris par les toxines de Coley, employees conjointement avec intervention chirurgicale. Presse Med. Belge. 57: 173–179, 1905.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Matagne, J.H.J.: Vers la guerison du cancer. Le Scalpel 104:504–544. 1951; and 106: 1387–1395, 1953.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Owens, J.F.: The use of toxins in the treatment of sarcoma, particularly of operable cases. Illinois State Med. Soc. Trans. (Chicago) 218–277, 1897. (also New Orleans, M. & S. J. 50: 1–8, 1897.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Coley, W.B.: The indications for the non–operable local treatment of tumors. The value of Toxins. Concord, N.H. Rep. Press Assn., 1896. (read before the New York State Medical Association, October 16, 1895. Reprint)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Editorial: J.A.M.A. Dec. 15, 1894; Coley’s reply Jan. 5, 1895.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Harmer, T.W.: A study of the efficiency of mixed toxins (Coley) in inoperable sarcoma. A critical analysis of 134 microscopically proven cases. Boston M. & S. J. 172: 331–338; 373–377; 411–416; 440–448, 1915.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Harmer, T.W.: Remarks upon the effects observed in the use of the mixed toxins (Coley) in certain cases of sarcoma. Boston M. & S. J. 171: 253–261, 1914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nauts, H.C.: Giant Cell Tumor of Bone: End results following immunotherapy (Coley toxins) alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation (66cases), or with concurrent infection (4 cases). Monograph #4, 2nd Edition, Cancer Research Institute, Inc., New York, 1975.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Nauts, H.D.: Immunological factors affecting incidence prognosis and survival in breast cancer. Part I: Factors affecting host resistance to breast cancer and therefore its incidence and response to treatment. Part II: The immunopotentiating effects of concurrent infections, inflammation or fever. Part III: Immunotherapy, effects of bacterial vaccines. Cancer Research Institute. Monograph #18, New York, 1984.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Coley, W.B.: Cancer of the testis; containing a report 64 cases, with special reference to 12 cases of cancer of the undescended testis. Trans. South Surg. & Gyn. Assn. 26:17–67, 1914. (Also in Ann. Surg. 62: 40–73, 1915 ).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Coley, W.B.: Primary neoplasms of the lymphatic glands including Hodgkin’s disease. Ann. Surg. 63: 35–70, 1916.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Coley, W.G. & Hoguet, J.B.: Melanotic cancer; with a report of ninety cases. Trans. Am. Surg. Assn. 34: 319–383, 1916.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Coley, W.B.: Multiple myeloma. Ann. Surg. 93:77–89, 1931. (Also in Trans. Amer. Surg. Assn. 48: 489–514, 1931 ).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Coley, W.B.: Endothelioma, or Ewing’s tumor. Am. J. Surg. 27: 7–18, 1935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Fowler, G.A. & Nauts, H.D.: The apparently beneficial effects of concurren infections, inflammation or fever and of bacterial toxin therapy on neuroblastoma. New York Cancer Research Institute, Inc., Monograph #11, New York, 1970.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Fowler, G.A.: Beneficial effects of acute bacterial infections or bacterial toxin therapy on cancer of the colon or rectum. New York Cancer Research Institute, Monograph #10, New York, 1969.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Nauts, H.C.: Enhancement of natural resistance to renal cancer: Beneficia effects of concurrent infections and immunotherapy with bacterial vaccines. New York Cancer Research Institute, Inc. Monograph #12, New York, 1973.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Nauts, H.C.: Bacterial products in the treatment of cancer: past, present and future. In Bacteria and Cancer, J. Jeljaszewicz, G. Pulverer & W. Roszkowski, Proc. International Colloquium on Bacteria and Cancer, Cologne, Germany, March 16–18,1982. London/New York, Academic Press, 1982, pp. 1–25.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Beebe, S.P. & Tracy, M.: The treatment of experimental tumors with bacterial toxins. J.A.M.A. 49: 1493–1498, 1907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Coley, W.B. & Coley, B.L.: Primary malignant tumors of the long bones; end results in one hundred and seventy operable cases. Ann. Surg. 13: 779–836, 1926; 14: 63–141, 1927.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Coley, W.B.: Endothelioma, or Ewing’s tumor. Am. J. Surg. 27: 7–18, 1935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Miller, T.N. & Nicholson, J.T.: End results in reticulum cell sarcoma.of bone treated by toxin therapy alone or combined with surgery and/or radiation (47 cases) or with concurrent infection (5 cases). Cancer 27: 524–548, 1971.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Coley, W.B.: Diagnosis and treatment of bone sarcoma. Glasgow, M. J. 126:49–86; 128–164, 1936.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Thomson, J.F.: Radiation protection in mammals. Reinhold Publishing Corporation, New York, p. 178, 1962.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ainsworth, E.J. & Forbes, P.D.: The effect of Pseudomonas pyrogen on survival of irradiated mice. Radiation Research 14:767–774, 1961, and personal communications.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ainsworth, E.J.: The effect of pyrogen dose in radiation protection. Radiation Research 14: 446–447, 1961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Coley, W.B.: The treatment of inoperable sarcoma by bacterial toxins (the mixed toxins of the streptococcus of erysipelas and the Bacillus prodigiosus). Practitioner (London) 83:589–613, 1909. (Also in Proc. Royal Soc, Med., Surg., Sect. 3:1–48, 1909–1910. (Abst. in Brit M.J. 2: 144–145, 1909 ).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Coley, W.B.: The treatment of cancer. Guys’ Hosp. Gag. 26: 7–14, 1911.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Nauts, H.C.: Immunology of Cancer –– The Pioneer Work of Coley. Presented at: International Symposium on Endotoxin: Structural Aspects and Immunobiology of Host Responses, Riva del Sole, Giovinazzo (Bari), Italy, May 29–June 1, 1986.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Old, L.J.: Tumor Necrosis Factor. First identified because of its anticancer activity, the factor is now recognized to be one of a family of proteins that orchestrate the body’s remarkable complex response to injury and infection. Scientific American: 59–75, May, 1988.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Coley, W.B.: Office records 1892–1936.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Coley, W.B.: The treatment of malignant inoperable tumors with the mixed toxins of erysipelas and Bacillus prodigiosus, with a brief report of 80 cases successfully treated with the toxins from 1893–1914. Brussels, M. Weissenbruch, 172 p., 1914.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Coley, W.B.: Prognosis and treatment of giant–cell sarcoma, based on a further study of end results in 69 cases. Ann. Surg. 86: 641–665, 1927.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Coley, W.B.: End results in Hodgkin’s disease or lymphosarcoma treated by mixed toxins of erysipelas and Bacillus prodigiosus, alone or combined with radiation. Trans. Amer. Surg. Assn. 46:331–357, 1928. (also in Ann. Surg. 88: 641–667, 1928 ).Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Johnston, B.: Clinical effects of Coley’s toxins. I. A controlled study. Cancer Chem. Repts. 21: 19–41, 1962.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Johnston, B.: Clinical effects of Coley’s toxins. II. A seven–year study. Cancer Chem. Repts. 21: 43–68, 1962.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Havas, H.F., Grosbeck, M.E. & Donnelly, A.J.: Mixed bacterial toxins in the treatment of tumors. I. Methods of preparation and effects on normal or Sarcoma 37–bearing mice. Cancer Res. 18: 141–148, 1958.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Havas, H.F. & Donnelly, A.J.: Mixed bacterial toxins in the treatment of tumors. IV. Response of methylcholanthrene–induced, spontaneous, and transplanted tumors in mice. Cancer Res. 21 (1): 17–25, 1961.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Nauts, H.C.: Multiple Myeloma: Beneficial effects of acute infections or immunotherapy (bacterial vaccines). Cancer Research Institute, Inc., Monograph #13, New York, 1975.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Kempin, S. et al: Improved remission rate and duration in nodular non–Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NNHL) with the use of mixed bacterial vaccine (MBV). Trans. Amer. Soc. Clin. Oncol. 22: 514, 1981.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Kempin, S. et al: Combined modality therapy of advanced nodular lymphomas (NL). The role of non–specific immunotherapy (MBC) as an important determinant of response and survival. ASCO extract, May, 1983.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Zheren, G. & Nauts, H.C.: Pilot study of mixed bacterial vaccine (MBV) on pediatric cancers: 57 cases. In manuscript.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Tang, Z.: Experimental and clinical studies on mixed bacterial vaccine in the treatment of primary liver cancer as adjuvant. In manuscript.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Waisbren, B.A., Sr.: Observations on the combined systemic administration of mixed bacterial vaccine, Bacillus Calmette—Guerin, transfer factor, and lymphoblastoid lymphocytes to patients with cancer, 1974–1985. J. Biol. Response Modifiers 6:1–19, 1987, and Personal Communications, 1977–1989.Google Scholar
  60. 45a.
    Weinberg, E.G.: Iron withholding: a defense against infection and neoplasia. Physiological Reviews 64: 65–102, 1984.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. 45b.
    Torrance, J.D., Charlton, R.W., Simon, M.O. et al: The mechanism of endotoxin induced hypoferraemia. Scand. J. Haematol. 21: 403–410, 1978.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Coley Nauts
    • 1
  • John R. McLaren
    • 2
  1. 1.Cancer Research INstituteNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Emory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations