Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT)
Insulin potentiation therapy, or IPT, was first developed in the 1930s in Mexico by Dr. Donato Perez Garcia. He theorized that insulin could improve the cellular uptake of other medications given, since insulin was already known at that time to be required for the uptake of sugar. For the first couple of decades, Dr. Garcia treated several different diseases using IPT, including schizophrenia and syphilis. It was not until later that he began using IPT to treat cancer in conjunction with low dose (or fractionated) chemotherapy. Today, IPT is primarily used for cancer treatment at a select group of cancer treatment clinics, as mainstream cancer treatment centers only administer treatments that are considered within the standard of care.
Research on Insulin Potentiation Therapy
The challenge with fractionated, metronomic chemotherapy using IPT is that we do not have any large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. However, there are some studies which shed light on how it works. The current belief is that IPT affects the metabolism of cancer cells, making them more sensitive to chemotherapy agents (thus the reason for using significantly less chemotherapy). It is also believed that the insulin and glucose given in conjunction with chemotherapy better target the chemotherapy to the cancer cells, rather than healthy cells. This is consistent with previous research confirming that cancer cells have significantly more insulin and glucose receptors on their cell surface compared to healthy cells.
Why We Use IPT
Fractionated chemotherapy administered with IPT makes sense to me on a biochemical and physiological level. Despite it not being the standard of care, we have seen it work well in our practice for a variety of cancer types. While we do not think it is appropriate for everyone, it can be an option for patients who have either failed full dose chemotherapy previously, are not candidates for full dose chemotherapy, or who prefer to try a gentler and safer approach.