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Thymus Therapy
By Milan C. Pesic, M.D.

Many diseases can be traced back directly or indirectly to a disorder of the immunological system. Energy, the lack of immunologically active cells, opens the door to germs. The use of thymus peptides, enzymes and other factors can in both cases contribute to a regulatory process of the immunological system.

The word "thymus" derives from ancient Greek "thymos" and refers to ideas about the function of this organ: thymos was the seat of the soul, volition, anima, courage and emotion. The thymus is stimulated in the easiest way by gently beating the chest slightly above the breastbone. Gorillas show this behavior before a fight. These animals want, thereby, to strengthen their courage and self-confidence.

In past centuries the thymus was regarded to be more or less superfluous. It was also believed to enable the development of the sexual organs until the age of puberty. In 1905 Hammer discovered that newborn animals were not viable without the thymus gland. Studies of Knipping (1924) came to the conclusion that the application of "fresh-made extract of the thymus gland" leads to an increase of lymphocytes and an increased resistance to diseases. .In 1962 Miller discovered the real function of the thymus gland was to produce T-cells (lymphocytes).

From 1953 until his death in 1989 Sandberg treated his patients regularly and incessantly with watery thymus extract (THX).

In 1975 thymus therapy with the application of thymus extract,' introduced by Pesic, reached its peak in Germany.

The School of Immune Defense

The thymus is in today's opinion the "brain" of the endogenous defense. It consists of two lobes and lays behind the breastbone in front of the heart. The thymus at birth is about the

size of the heart. It grows until the third year of one's age and then retains its weight from 30 to 40g until the period of puberty. As we advance in years this gland, part of the RES (reticulo-endothelial system), shrinks for reasons yet unknown. The glandular tissue converts into connective and fatty tissue. As a result the number of the T-lymphocytes is reduced and a concomitant reduction of defensive power. When we regard older people, this conclusion is validated. At the same time the serum level of the blood concerning the thymus peptides also falls.

Notwithstanding the reduction of the thymus until death, the remaining parts of this gland function on a smaller scale. After this change the keratinocytes specialized skin cells essentially take over further functions of the thymus.

The task of the thymus in general and the thymic hormones in particular has been only partly explored. It is known today, that the T-lymphocytes are related to the " immune defense," that they can distinguish between self and nonself. Three different types of cells are produced by the thymus: the helper cells their contribution is to signal and regulate immune substances, for example, lymphokines, which stimulate killer cells and phagocytes. In addition to this the helper cells stimulate the production of antibodies by the B-lymphocytes. The second group is trained to become killer cells. They are able to attack directly cancer cells and destroy them. The suppressor cells belong to the last and third group. These cells are necessary, because they are able to calm down a defensive reaction once initiated. Otherwise, the highly aggressive helper and killer cells would be able to do harm to its own body. The normal ratio between T-helper- and T-suppressor-cells is 1.5 to 1. If this ratio is changed with upward (4 to 1) or downward tendency (1 to 2), the immune system is disturbed.

The Thymic Hormones

Today more than twenty thymus peptides have been isolated from the entire thymus extract. Five of them are already satisfactorily explored.

Thymosin a (alpha) 1 increases the MIF(migration inhibitory factor), the interferon and lymphokine production and also the immunity against viruses, fungi and tumors.

Singular thymus factors influence the different levels of maturity. Thymus peptides induce the expression of specific T-receptors on immature precursor lymphocytes, as well as the differentiation of T-lymphocytes in the thymus. During the therapeutic application of thymic preparations, the short-chained thymus peptides effect a regulation and modulation of the lymphocytes' subpopulation. Over this the neogenesis of prethymocytes in the bone marrow is induced.

Thymus Therapy in General Practice

The number of clinical examinations that have been made with thymus peptides and the entire thymus extract is large. During the last few years three central areas of indication have taken shape thanks to the dominant regulatory ability of the thymus peptides: malignant tumors (lung, breast, stomach, intestines, kidney, bladder and prostate), chronic recurrent infections and rheumatism.

Patients with malignant disease usually have a disordered suppressed immune system. The power of the body is, on the one hand, destroyed by radical therapy radiation therapy or chemotherapy. If you take clinical observations into consideration, which show the interdependence between the progress of the tumor invasion and the strength of the immune response, the existence of an immunological tumor host interaction is highly probable. In 1970 Burnett defined the "hypothesis of the immune surveillance." The immunity, procured by the T-cells, plays a major part in the struggle against degenerative cells.

Among patients with malignant disease, we have to proceed on the assumption of a primary or secondary immune insufficiency. A still unknown noxa produces an inflammatory reaction in the joint, which has on its part an activation of the cellular and humoral power of defense. The B-lymphocytes produce an antibody. The increasing immunity complexes are phagocytized by the granulocytes; this leads to a release of lysosomal enzymes and inflammation factors the vicious circle runs its course. In this case a treatment with thymus peptides is appropriate, for thymic hormones and thymic factors modulate the cellular and humoral immunological response and if not, prevent the escalation of the self-destruction.

The weakened immune system is an ideal "culture medium" for opportunistic infections, which not infrequently take a chronic course or always recur. Methods of treatment which only attack the pathogens, only have a symptomatic effect. They frequently have the characteristic of weakening the immune system, so that the next infection is a foregone conclusion.

A study by Pesic and LaWniczak entitled "Immune correction with the help of thymus extracts under negative 'influence of some antibiotics upon the phagocyte," clearly reveals the efficacy of using thymus extracts to correct the lack of enzymes brought about by treatment with antibiotics and cytostatic agents. After clinical examination the regular application of thymus reduces the susceptibility to infection. Moreover, a visible improvement of the general condition can be detected among the majority of the patients. The treatment with thymus extracts in cases of chronic, recurrent infections must be regarded as a causal therapy. It leads to a fundamental restoration of the immune system.

"There is an accumulating body of medical evidence which suggests that further increases in life-span and better health will come less from dramatic medical discoveries, than what I call well living.' In other words, your future health and length of life will be determined largely by what you and do for ourselves, not what medicine can do for us."

John H. Knowles, M.D., President of the Rockefeller Foundation

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