Chapter 04: Making Connections and Issues with Acquiring Interferon

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Chapter 04: Making Connections and Issues with Acquiring Interferon

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Publication Date

3-29-2006

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview's Subject Story - Professional Path; Professional Path; The Researcher; Definitions, Explanations, Translations; Technology and R&D; The History of Health Care, Patient Care; Business of Research; Fiscal Realities in Healthcare; Politics and Cancer/Science/Care

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Two things happened. Again, I returned to New York for a New York Academy meeting -- New York Academy of Sciences meeting. In late '75 in the fall. And I had gone back to see -- you know, I'm sorry about this. Good had not tumbled yet. I went over to see Bob Good again. That day. It was shortly thereafter in '75 when this thing -- we'll have to check when the Summerlin thing -- I can go back -- now with Google, it's easy to find these things. But I had been there to see him in '74, but the tumbling -- and now, they were still negotiating with me. And I was definitely thinking very seriously. I remember going over to see him in '75. It was, I think, the fall. At the Roosevelt Hotel was this meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences on interferon. Again, there's a book on this. And I presented, and on the way out of the meeting, I had an appointment to see Good. And in coming into the Roosevelt Hotel was Mary Lasker. And she said, "Oh, Dr. Gutterman" -- we were still formal. "What did you talk about today?" And I said interferon -- I'm sorry. BCG. BCG. In breast cancer, where we had some interesting data. She said, "Breast cancer? Can you help my friend Rosalind Russell?" That -- she was very cryptic. And I said I don't know, I'm coming back. I have a meeting to go see Dr. Good again. She says, "You got to move to New York." I said well I got an hour’s meeting with him, and will you be here later this afternoon for the sum-up with Steve Carter? She says, "I'll be here. Let's talk." So I went over, had my interview again with Good. Came back to the end of the New York Academy of Sciences meeting, which was really just more of an extension of what had occurred earlier at the Krim meeting. But this was interesting, New York Academy had decided to do this meeting, which I suspect Mathilde was involved with. And she said that her friend Rosalind Russell, who had years and years of rheumatory arthritis and been on steroids had a recurrent breast cancer. And she wanted me to have Rosalind Russell come to Houston to see me as a physician. And the only reason I tell this story is because it really got us talking about the frustration, and it was breast cancer that finally got her eventually, to make the decision about interferon. And the failure of what we really had for breast cancer. Not that interferon really was that useful in breast cancer.

So I saw Rosalind Russell, and she raved about how well she was treated and so forth and so on, and I actually had to go to LA to see her once before she passed away. And she did die about a year later.

Lesley W. Brunet

From breast cancer.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

From breast cancer. And so I got to know her and her husband, Freddie Brisson real well, and so forth. But I also learned that Mary was close to the Hollywood types.

Lesley W. Brunet

Oh yeah, I knew that.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah. So, that was the end of '75 and '76. And the one day, to kind of cement our relationship, she called me again out of the blue in 1976, I guess it was, yeah. And said, "Dr. Gutterman. I want you to talk to my friend Tanny Polster. I want you to testify at Congress about the use of immunotherapy with chemotherapy, and cancer about the advances outside of chemotherapy. There's going to be a congressional hearing.

Lesley W. Brunet

What was the first name, Polster?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Polster. Tanny. T-A-N-N-Y. He was a lobbyist for the American Cancer...

Lesley W. Brunet

Is it Nathaniel?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Nathaniel. He was a lobbyist.

Lesley W. Brunet

.29

We have those records.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah. You know, it's possible that what I gave you and in my own notes...

Lesley W. Brunet

Well, this -- the Polster name is in the Clark records. This section.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well he was prominent. Solomon Garb was another name that came around with times. Talk about all these people. Because these people were really, you know, pioneers. They were really the pioneers and the stagecoachers, you know? The Solomon Garbs. Because, just to go back for a second. Solomon Garb was at this AMC Institute in Denver, a no-place. Actually, Tom Slaga just left there. I've been there several times. Who wrote a little book about the conquering of cancer that Mary read, and got her thinking, hey, maybe we can do this. You know? Just as an aside, her mentality -- I was telling my son this. I don't know if you follow at all the basket -- college basketball, and heard about this George Mason University's in the Final Four, do you know anything about that?

Lesley W. Brunet

Uh, just a little bit, yeah.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah. But I mean, no small little school's ever beat up the Dukes and the North Carolinas. And I was telling my son that when I was 15 years old, the Holy Grail of track was to run the four-minute mile, and people said it couldn't be done. Remember what Bill Carter said. No one's ever going to clone this. And I just want to give you a taste of my influence of a J. Freireich or a Mary Lasker. These are giants, because they said it can be done in a realistic way. And I suspect that was part of my own nature, but these people influenced me. So, when Bill Carter said we're going to be dead before anybody clones interferon, so they said this about the four-minute mile. And the interesting thing is, once Roger Bannister ran that four-minute mile on May the 6th, I think it was, 1954, within a week, people who were running it 4:02, 4:03, or 4:04 broke the four-minute mile. It was a psychological barrier. The same thing's going to occur in basketball. Once a little school like that makes the Final Four, the other players, the schools, are going to think this is doable.

Well, with Mary, conquering cancer is doable. If we put the resources and the energy and the concentration on it. And -- but she needed to get Congress involved. So she had -- you know, it's like a big chessboard with her. So I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. So Tammy calls me up and for months, then I worked on a document about the use of immunotherapy, what was now going on with other vaccines like C. parvum, which is another bacteria. I sent it to her, and she was, "This is fantastic." And I testified, and I did like doing this, and I do speak well, I think, to lay groups, and I can explain complex things in rather simple terms. And she got rave reviews from the Senate. This was very exciting.

Lesley W. Brunet

Was it a certain subcommittee, or a...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health. Right. So I remember the Senate committee, Ted Kennedy came in. I took my two oldest kids at the time on a cold, cold April in 1976 -- this was a year after the meeting. Man, was it cold up there. We didn't dress properly. But I took my kids, they were about nine and ten, and they were in awe. You know, there's -- Ted Kennedy walks in, and these other senators. We can go back and look and see who's on the committees. And my testimony is in the records. And so I testified. I didn't read the whole thing, but I testified, and I was quizzed. And she -- I mean Polster...

END OF AUDIO FILE 4

Lesley W. Brunet

OK. Let me -- we ran out of tape there just for a minute. You were saying that you also spoke to the House, or?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah, I also spoke to the House.

Lesley W. Brunet

It was quite a difference.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah, well, quite a different story. But -- and then in '76, I began to learn about how Mary dealt with the Congress to get increasing amounts of money for appropriations.

So she dealt with the HE -- I guess it was the time, the HEW's subcommittees and Senate. And she also dealt with the big appropriations committee. I mean, she was very tied in with Warren Magnuson, who I think was -- and she said those boys, as she always called these people, have more power in their little finger. She said they could put 50, 100, 200 million dollars. Think about what we can do with a wave of the wand. And so, I went with her that -- before the things were marked up, that summer and fall, before she went away to Europe and then later in the fall. That spring, a little bit that summer -- early summer, and then before they marked everything up, before the budget came out in October, which is always delayed, and went around and talked to virtually every senator and every congressman. I'd have to go back over my notes and if it's important to document who all those people were.

Lesley W. Brunet

Now was it just to get more money in general for cancer research?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yes.

Lesley W. Brunet

So it wasn't a specific project or anything.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well, more money, but she was pushing the immunotherapy button. That there was a new -- because it was, you know, this so-called non-toxic -- and then it was kind of natural, you know. And she did put the -- put money -- I remember she worked very closely with Claude Pepper on the House side to have a meeting -- and I got to -- and I do forget about this. She wanted a meeting in Washington where the congressmen would be exposed to immunotherapy. And I'm trying to remember, I think there was a meeting of some sort. And I can't remember now, in Washington, that she got Mathilde involved...

Lesley W. Brunet

Lister and...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

What's that?

Lesley W. Brunet

Was Lister Hill involved?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

No, he was not. He was gone.

Lesley W. Brunet

Or was that before -- OK.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

No, he -- yeah. Lister Hill was big in the early days. And...

Lesley W. Brunet

Trying to think of the other people, like -- that went with this time, Warren Magnuson, and...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well, let's see. Well, Hubert Humphrey. Huge. I met with Humphrey in '76, that was interesting, because he was from South Dakota, he was a pharmacist. And I grew up in South Dakota. He was from Doland, South Dakota, and lived in Huron. So, he had already had his bladder cancer. It was before he got the classic appearance of losing his hair. So I went to see him -- Humphrey was big. Kennedy, I went to see Kennedy, and I got to go back and think about who all the senators I saw. And then I remember in the House, I had Claude Pepper for sure. And -- oh, Daniel Flood was big. She didn't like him at all. But what a -- he had this handlebar mustache. What a character he was. But he was big. I think he was head of the committee in the House.

Lesley W. Brunet

I'm trying to think, Lindy Boggs? Hale Boggs?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

No. That was later.

Lesley W. Brunet

That was before -- oh, it was later.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

No. She came later. I'm sure it's in my notes. I do keep records of this stuff. I have records of all that stuff. So I got to go back. What's that?

Lesley W. Brunet

That -- I get very excited when I hear about all of these -- people have kept their notes from these very important historical periods.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well, I'll have to go back. I have some stuff in storage in my building, so I got to go back and get some of these notes out and look at my written -- I kind of summarized everything, but you know, condensed everything in kind of in a book form. So I got to go back, and this is good. I'll do it as soon as I can. But, so, I did that a lot in '76, in '77, so, you know, she and I got to really know each other. Now we were first name, of course, and all this type of thing. And we were talking about interferon.

Lesley W. Brunet

And how did the people here feel about your very public stance, and involvement with the philanthropists and politicians?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Oh. Positive. Because Dr. Clark was very involved. He loved it. He loved it, because this was a time of great popularity of getting Washington -- because of the Nixon, you know, because the cancer -- the National Cancer Plan, and promoting more money. I'm not sure internally, again, I don't know how Evan Hersh felt, but I'm sure he was not particularly happy, because he was at that meeting on the eight of us, and she selected me out. And that's the way she did it with people. She would select someone out. She did it with Sidney Farber. She did it with Mike DeBakey back in the '40s. And she would pick individuals. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but someone that she intuitively felt -- and it was almost instantaneous, that she could relate to and that would respond and that she could groom to work with her. To do -- to carry about many of the things.

So in my case, it was not only, as it turns out, the clinical work and so forth, but it was on a national scene was well. And it was all intuitive. And I could describe for you what I think were the characteristics that she was drawn to. But I won't do that right now or maybe ever. But passion was one of them.

Lesley W. Brunet

I was just thinking that, passion, and...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Intensity, and...

Lesley W. Brunet

Ability to get things done. And certain rapport.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, here's a woman that would call you at any time, day or night. And you had to be on all the time with her. And it was very exciting. So we did that in '76, in '77, and that went on 'til she had her stroke in '81, I think it was. On an annual basis. The glamour of it wore off a little bit and became a bit of a chore later, because it was so difficult. But I went with her a lot. The one on one -- I mean, I did testify three or four years in a row, but the thing that was time consuming, but I did it a lot, was going with her, and she arranged for three or four or five members of the Senate or the House -- usually one or the other, because -- and we go, and we'd have to sit sometimes while they were on the floor or something, waiting for a vote, god knows what. And she would just sit on these hard benches. Of course, we had a lot of time to talk about all sorts of things. But mostly about her life, and about -- and then we, obviously, we're talking about interferon, and we began to plot, so to speak. And she said, "You know, the NCI needs to do something here." And she really had big problems with the, I guess, now-director of the NCI, which was Vin DeVita. Who made -- who was really a protégé of Frei and Freireich, frankly. But that's beside the point. He was famous for MOPP and Hodgkin's, which I think was Frei's idea, and that was really Tom Frei. But when Frei and Freireich came down here, DeVita and Carbone published the stuff in the Annals of Internal Medicine. I think in '69, the year I got to San Antonio, and received a lot of the credit. I've heard that most credit really should have gone to Frei and Freireich, who conceived the whole idea, really, of combination chemotherapy.

And the NIH did have a budget -- and I got to go back over my notes in this. But they had some commitment to viral -- anti-viral research. There were several people, George [Glasser?] and all sorts of other people who were working at the NIH in the arthritis and viral institute or whatever it's called, for viruses. But the idea of interferon for cancer was quite foreign. And she kept saying that we really got to get them going. But she got completely -- I mean, they didn't want to listen to her. She went down to Washington, I believe, talked to DeVita and other people about getting money -- and Krim, as well. And that was in part the reason for the '75 -- initial '75 meeting, the national -- the New York Academy of Sciences meeting, and I believe there was one meeting in Washington which I'll have to go back, '76 or '77. But it was the Krim meeting was the historical one. And I remember, finally, in the spring of '77, sending in a proposal. Oh. I think there was a call -- what do you call, RFDs, or what -- RDF...

Lesley W. Brunet

RFP.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Call for proposal. RFP. For interferon. Proposals. And I sent a proposal in to study breast cancer. And unfortunately, to this day, I can't -- do not know what happened to the critiques. Someone has to take only my memory in trust. But among the comments were that this will never work, this is a crazy idea -- but this is not the only time I've heard this from NCI, so -- later on. They did approve a small amount for study. They had the Cantell interferon for viruses, and they approved a paltry amount to give. I think enough for one or two patients. From the NCI. But it was trivial. It was...

Lesley W. Brunet

So it wasn't a million. Or something.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

There was no money. It was going to give -- they were going to send me for maybe three or four patients, and it was even unclear as to when this would arrive. They had a commission, the Finnish Red Cross, to make some of it. But there was a tentative agreement, I think from pressure from Mary Lasker, they would give me a few, you know, hundred million units. It was enough to treat a couple of patients. It was trivial. She was...

Lesley W. Brunet

But you were the only -- were you the only one getting any at all?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

I think so. I don't think anybody else was presenting anything for cancer. Nobody was paying any attention to this at all. Nobody. Other than Strander. And that critique, I still remember. It was really biting and very sarcastic. This is a crazy idea, there's no evidence this works. The few patients with osteosarcoma that Strander presented is a figment of his imagination, and this type of thing. She was irate.

In August of that year, 1977, we didn't go on vacation that year because my wife at the time delivered a fourth child who was born in October of '76, so he was ten months old. It was a hot, hot, hot mid-August day in Houston. I got this phone call, it was Mary Lasker. And again, directly, she said [Redacted] Will you go to Stockholm to see Strander and Cantell and get some interferon? That was the question.

[Redacted]

Lesley W. Brunet

Oh. So that's when you got...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

"Are you willing, if I give you a million dollars, to work on interferon?" That was it. Very direct. No small talk. Right to the point. I said, absolutely. She said, I'm going away soon. I'm devastated about [Redacted]. She has this friend over at Sloan-Kettering who's going to give her some chemotherapy, but we've got to get her some treatment, and we've got to get all these other poor folks who are just like [Redacted]. Chemotherapy is not working enough.

We've got these new ideas. This interferon, we talked about it, we got to do it. Come see me this fall. I'm going away to Italy -- or, excuse me, a little bit to Venice, and then on to the south of France. And I'll be back in late September. Come up to New York, we'll talk about it, and could you arrange a meeting with Strander and Cantell -- who I'd met at the Krim meeting.

So I arranged all that. And on October the 12th or 11th, I flew to New York to meet with her. And I remember going to this hotel, and I guess I was a naive traveler at the time, but we didn't guarantee the reservation, and I didn't have any hotel. It was fall in New York, which was very popular. So I eventually found a place to stay, and went over to her apartment the next day. It was at the 12th of October. And we spent -- we had lunch together, and spent the afternoon. Again, I was dazzled by the paintings. In fact, part of the problem was I was in her living room, kept looking at this painting by Sam Francis, who I came to be -- he's a great American painter. I came to collect and be a friend with and so forth and so on. I couldn't take my -- no, no. It was -- let me think a second. I'm sorry. It was not Sam Francis. It was a guy named Paul Jenkins. And as we were talking, she says you keep looking at this painting, I said these colors are just dazzling my eyes. And she says, well, when you get back from Europe, we'll come up and we've (pause) -- we got to go see his art. And there's another man I want you to meet. It's the work of Sam Francis. I just was out there, and just got a painting by him, and I think he's the greatest colorist since Matisse. So I got very excited about art.

Lesley W. Brunet

So is that why you're big on color.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah. And so, and she said, I'm willing -- I'll put a million dollars. But let's try to negotiate a really good price, and so forth. And so, Kari Cantell had agreed to meet with me and Strander at the airport in Stockholm on the -- would have been the 13th of October. Which was a Thursday, Thursday morning. So I flew over all night, met them -- you know, I got in the next morning. And I was met there by a very controversial, complex, but historically I have to mention this. She didn't really contribute much, but I was met by Mary's friend at the time, which was a very delicate issue. Dita Blair. Do you know that name?

Lesley W. Brunet

No.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

OK. Her official name is Mrs. William McCormick Blair. (laughter) Whole story unto itself. I can get into the short story, or the intermediate story of who she was, but her husband was Adlai Stevenson's law partner. All these connections. And she -- her husband, since Mary was very close to Stevenson, in both the '52 and '56 elections, dated him, she met Bill, who was single. And somehow met Dita, was her name. And put them together. And they got married, I think it was in Copenhagen -- he -- during the Kennedy administration in 1960, being Kennedy defeated Stevenson, but I think he was paying off some of Stevenson's people to get him on-board. So he made Blair the ambassador of both the Philippines and to Denmark. He was a career diplomat, really. He wasn't...

Lesley W. Brunet

Oh. I was to say, not at the same time.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

No, no. First Philippines, but I think they were in Denmark when they got married in 1962. He was considerably older, he's still alive, than she. She was quite a glamorous woman at the time. And Mary needed an ally in Washington. She went down there all the time, and they were very social. He came from a very wealthy family, you can tell, from Chicago. So the name McCormick tells you right there, and the Blairs. So he came from a very prominent socially, Democratic family in Washington. I don't want to get too far off the track, we can come back to her later. But they became allies, and they had a beautiful home on Foxhall Road, one of the most prominent places in Washington. So when Mary had her team in Washington, she stayed at the Blairs, and she entertained there a lot. So they kind of helped her out. Just as an aside, toward the end of her life, they had a huge falling out. I'm not sure I want to get into it, but there was kind of a parting of the ways. She still is close, but she was kind of her right hand person, in a way, because Mary wouldn't travel like things like this. And she and I did work, to Dita's credit, she did work behind the scenes with Mary to kind of help things. And she kind of represented the Lasker Foundation. I mean, I was not a trustee, I didn't become a trustee until 1982. And I was still pretty new in the game, young and so forth. So in a sense, she represented the Lasker Foundation and Mary. And she was in Europe, and met me in the airport, and came to that meeting. And she was helpful, I mean, there was no doubt she was helpful. And we talked a lot, and they agreed, and I again need to go over it with my notes. They agreed -- Cantell desperately wanted someone in America to pick up the mantle of cancer, to really put this in more critical -- because nobody was listening to Strander. He was a radiotherapist, he was very low key. The osteosarcoma study was just a small number of patients. He was not very eloquent. And I think he could realize that the Lasker Foundation could put the clout and buy the interferon.

We could find out once and for all. And the only other person at that time who was also working, in a tiny, tiny way on cancer, was a prominent virologist at Stanford by the name of Tom Merigan. M-E-R-I-G-A-N. I didn't know him at the time, I came to know him soon thereafter. Tom had been working in hepatitis, and frankly, does not get the credit that he deserves, because he had done a lot of pilot studies with the Cantell interferon in viral hepatitis. Hepatitis B. We didn't know about C at the time. And done a lot of studies and showed some really definite effects in the '60s. I mean, he was really probably the first clinical virologist working with interferon. There was a lot of beautiful work going on in virology, but from a clinical standpoint, at Stanford. But he had tiny amounts, and I don't recall precisely -- I don't recall at all how he got money to buy the small amounts of interferon. It was sort of like what NCI wanted me to do with breast cancer, treat three patients. So he had some -- but he had experience. But around this time, when he heard that we were starting, he did treat three lymphoma patients with cancer. But that was a very tiny operation. So Cantell was really keen on doing this. MD Anderson, the Lasker Foundation, I mean, what better situation? The stuff was very expensive. It was $50 per million units. So each shot of 3 million units, which was the dose used in the sarcoma patients, was $150.

Lesley W. Brunet

$50 for what, one...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

One million units. And a dose -- this was done in units, rather than milligrams or protein, because it was only 1% pure as we later learned. The stuff that was being made by the Finnish Red Cross was only 1% pure. But nobody had pure interferons at the time. We'll come back to what happened later, I guess. So we're probably going to end with this, and then we could pick up the trips to the companies, the purification, the cloning, and all the publicity that came from the American Cancer Society, that's kind of the second phase. I think this got a minute, we'll end with this, because once we started the studies, it started a whole array of things.

So Cantell agreed he would sell it at half price. Probably cost. Or close to cost. But he was so -- I mean, I still remember this. This was bigger than any CIA or war secret. Nobody must know that this was $25. That he's going to give us half price. Because he couldn't really afford to do this. But he really wanted this to work, and he knew we could treat twice as many patients, or half to spend half as much money, either way. But he agreed, and I remember this very clearly on that Thursday morning in Stockholm, on the 13th of October, saying -- and this was a big deal, because to go from $50 to $25, because of the expense was just cut in half. And Mary's way of looking at it is we could treat twice as many people for the same amount of money, because she'd already sell -- and she sold some paintings. She sold a Matisse, and she sold a -- oh. Japanese painter. I'll think about it. But she sold some paintings to raise the money.

In fact, Mathilde just reminded me of this when I saw her last September at a reception for DeBakey at Ann [Basse?]'s house in New York. We were reliving the days of interferon, how -- Fujita was the guy, his name. She sold some Fujita paintings. The Japanese guy working in Paris, as well as Matisse, to raise the money to give for the interferon. And it's not that she couldn't have, you know...

Lesley W. Brunet

She didn't have it in her bank account?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well, I was going to say it's not that she couldn't move it around, but I think her way of operating was, you know, these paintings on the wall are worth money. They're beautiful paintings. And she was using the money to live and support whatever else she was doing. I mean, she giving money -- not big amounts, you couldn't, to Congress, but she was supporting little things like that. So her way of doing it was to compartmentalize it. And by the way, I'm probably going to do the same thing, because I collected a lot of art. And I don't have a collection like she did, but I'm thinking, I'm probably -- just as an aside, I may well have to do that with my own work now, to kind of unglue it to get to the clinic. And I learned from her you could do that. I mean, that's something -- if you can do something like that. But that's what she said. She sold the paintings to raise the money, and I think she literally did. I know she sold the paintings, and she used the profits from those paintings so that -- I think she was in kind of equilibrium, you know, in terms of her bonds and her stuff, yeah. I'm sure she could have moved a million around, but when she died, the estate was only $20 million, which included property.

Lesley W. Brunet

What was it when he died?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

I don't know. That's a good question. It was nev -- I mean, in those days, that was a fair amount of money, certainly when he died.

Lesley W. Brunet

That was a lot of money in the '60s.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Let's say $8 million when he died in '52. I'm just -- arbitrary. That was a lot of money. $20 -- well, when she died in 1994, now, she -- the estate was $20 million, which includes the home. Two house -- the apartment in New York and this eight-acre estate in Greenwich, Connecticut. So, a lot...

Lesley W. Brunet

Was she -- she gave a lot of it away?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah. So, she stayed in equilibrium. So $20 million, which included the real estate, I mean, she didn't have...

Lesley W. Brunet

Oh, she's almost poor.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

What's that?

Lesley W. Brunet

I said she's almost poor. I mean, for...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah, yeah, no, I know. And she lived a very glamorous sort of life. I mean, she had housekeepers...

Lesley W. Brunet

Oh, yeah. She hung out with Lady Bird all the time.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Oh yeah. And this type of thing. So, you know, again, I'm sure she could have come up with a million, but it was just easier to say compartmentalize. This is for interferon. And that was legitimate and so forth. And so it was one million less that she left for the Foundation and this thing. And -- now the next day on Friday, the 14th of October, I went over to spend the day with Strander over at the Karolinska Institute. And he showed me one patient that I could see the future. He introduced me to a man -- first of all, he showed me his cell culture data with lymphomas. And myeloma, which are both B cell tumors. And you could see the growth inhibition directly. It had nothing to do with the immune system, you just plop the interferon in the cell cultures with these cell lines and the growth stopped. And then he pulled out this chart and introduced me to this patient with multiple myeloma, which has a nice marker, it's called the M protein. You do what's called a serum electrophoresis, and there's a peak, big peak that is the myeloma clone of cells. And over the course of several months, you could just see this diminish. And the X-rays get better in the bone, and the patient would feel better, and so forth. And so this was a patient with a myeloma who had nearly a complete remission, not a complete remission. And it fit the in vitro data.

Lesley W. Brunet

I'm sorry?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

It fit the laboratory data. He had a second patient where he said -- he thought was beginning to respond as well, and showed me that. And that's all I needed, because I could see the fact that this was -- in the laboratory, it was blocking the proliferation of these B cells, these antibody-forming cells. And by the way, that is -- you know, I said this is immune stimulant, and it is. It does activate the immune system, and also suppresses -- and these myelomas and lymphomas are cancers of the immune system, they're B cells. It's a lymphocyte. So when you're suppressing the growth of those abnormal B cells, you're suppressing the immune system. So the interferon was both active -- activating aspects of it, but also suppressing abnormal overgrowth of the immune system. That's what I'm saying, and I think this -- all this stuff with vaccines, one has to be very careful. You know, it's very complicated, the immune system is really complicated. But that's all I needed. I saw this, the result from this one myeloma patient, and I knew for sure that we had something that would work in patients. I mean, this was remarkable. I mean, truly remarkable, because -- I mean -- but the thing it reminded me somewhat of was steroids or cortisone, which is really not chemotherapy. It's a hormone. That's what interferon is, it's a hormone, if you will.

That -- for the immune system to defend, probably, against viruses, that's probably how it evolved. But you could see -- and viruses won't grow if the cells aren't growing. Viruses hijack the cells to get their energy. So I think part of the anti-viral stuff had to be something that would block the growth of cells where the viruses would latch onto, and they love B cells. That's where you get Epstein-Barr virus. They latch onto B cells and T cells, which we later learned about the interferon.

So, that was very exciting. We went to dinner. I think Dita joined us that night. And then I -- now. There was a meeting on immunotherapy being held on the 16th of October in Rome at the -- there is a thing called the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. They were having a meeting on immunotherapy of cancer, which was just beginning to emerge now, a topic. Strander was going. I decided to go to -- it was in Rome, of course, but I decided, for some reason, went to Copenhagen for Saturday, spend the day there. I just wanted to see Copenhagen. It was a terribly rainy day, it was my birthday too. I turned -- this was 39, that day. So I spent kind of a dismal day in rainy Copenhagen on my 39th birthday. And then flew into Rome, Strander came to the meeting. He again presented his osteosarcoma patients, but he also presented his two patients with myeloma. Nobody took much note of it. Everybody's pretty skeptical. This Edmund Klein was there, the guy that won -- one of the Lasker Award winners. He was from Roswell Park in Buffalo. The dermatologist who leaped into immunotherapy very passionately for skin cancers. And I was there to present the BCG data. It was organized, I think, by William Terry, who was in charge of now what was now becoming known as the immunotherapy program at the National Cancer Institute. So, you could begin to see now, starting in 1971 with the BCG, which began to get a lot of attention, from Sloan-Kettering and so forth. Then this interferon meeting. And now this immunotherapy meeting, organized by the NCI at the invitation of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome focusing on this. It was beginning to be a field. It was beginning to be developed. And interferon was just a tiny little piece of it. No one believed Strander. And Merigan was there, because he was a virologist. This was primarily focused on cancer.

I remember getting sick at that meeting. I ate something -- I didn't realize Italy was like Mexico. I ate some -- an apple I think, a piece of fruit off the table, and just had terrible...

Lesley W. Brunet

I didn't know it was like Mexico.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well, I don't know if it is today, but I got sick. All I know, I got sick. And I missed part of the meeting, because everybody got an audience with the Pope. I forgot which pope it was. I remember I had a Catholic secretary, Sue Brillhart was her name, and she had given me...

Lesley W. Brunet

A rosary?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yeah, to be blessed by the Pope. And I called her, I said, "Sue, I can't make it." Oh my god, she was devastated. [Redacted]

END OF AUDIO FILE 5

Jordan Gutterman, MD

So we're going to finish up in a minute. So, I flew back very excited. I had a commitment from Cantell for half the price. I knew I had to get a protocol written and this and that. But there was an IND at the NCI -- at the NIH, excuse me, for viruses. I mean, Merigan had one. So Cantell interferon had already been given to a few hepatitis patients here. So -- and they didn't fall over dead. So, I knew this was going to be relatively easy. I think we're going to stop there. So, I came back from that meeting very, very excited. A, we got interferon for half price, which was such a big deal. We knew we could get twice for the million bucks. I knew I could write a protocol. And Mary wanted it on breast cancer, specifically. We added -- I convinced her that lymphomas and myelomas were important, because I didn't know about breast cancer, but I knew about -- I mean, I'd only seen one patient, but since the in vitro stuff with myeloma tracked with these one or two patients, and the lymphoma stuff looked fantastic. I said I want to do all three tumors. As a backup. I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket. [Redacted]

And so, I think we'll leave it there. I got back here toward the end of October then, ready to start a chapter of my life that I didn't know where it was going. And meanwhile, there was no -- nobody knew about this, and I'll get to where the companies were. There was very little activity going on yet. It was all kind of in the closet.

Lesley W. Brunet

And did the institution want its overhead costs?

Jordan Gutterman, MD

No. Not a penny of Mary Lasker's money ever passed through MD Anderson, or later, I'll get into that story of the oil industry, which is truly fascinating. Not a penny of that money ever went through here. That's where I began to get into trouble.

Lesley W. Brunet

Well, they like that overhead money.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Oh, they never saw a penny of it. It went directly to Finland. It was just buying -- all they did was they bought the fuel. And I'll get into the Clayton Foundation for Mr. Davis, but the publicity that Mary started, it's just a story that gets -- it picks up interest.

Lesley W. Brunet

And it is a whole lot of press. We have the clippings.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Well, this didn't start 'til the fall of '78, and there was a whole story of Mary Lasker, my fear of the press, ACS. But we'll get into all that, how that was orchestrated, how that all happened, and how this led to the -- interferon foundation...

Lesley W. Brunet

And this is the same time where Clark is giving way to LeMaistre, and...

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Yes. In '78.

Lesley W. Brunet

And other things going on here that probably affected it too.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

Not yet, not quite yet. Because, I mean, he was stepping down, but in '77, he was still there, because he went to Cuba later, we'll get to that. I don't know when, but...

Lesley W. Brunet

Yeah, I have a picture of that.

Jordan Gutterman, MD

So, I think that's a good chapter one. That kind of leads to the background of how I got to Sweden and brought back the interferon. I probably missed some things, but this relationship primarily with Mary, helped in a way by Mathilde Krim about being in Virginia and meeting her in the first place thanks to Clark, and then Freireich and all this type of thing. So I think we'll stop it there.

Lesley W. Brunet

OK. Thanks. Thanks for taking the time today.

END OF AUDIO FILE 6

Chapter 04: Making Connections and Issues with Acquiring Interferon

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