Peter DeMarco

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Peter DeMarco
Peter T DeMarco c.1975.jpg
Peter T. DeMarco (c. 1975)
Born March 6, 1932
Died October 26, 2005
Nationality American
Medical career
Specialism Regenerative medicine

Peter Thomas DeMarco (March 6, 1932 – October 26, 2005) was an American physician who graduated from Albright College in Pennsylvania and achieved his doctor of medicine degree in 1957 from Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A resident of Pine Hill, New Jersey, he had a research laboratory and medical practice there.[1][2]

His sole practice was devoted to treating patients with procaine PVP, However, his medical license was suspended in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for using unapproved therapies after an experimental permit for his drug was withdrawn. The Federal agency also said the drug might cause cancer. This was a common misconception in the 1970s. Later research revealed procaine to have anti-cancer effects in human cancer cells.[3][4]


Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson's Ortho Research Laboratory wrote that case histories of his therapy, "were quite remarkable and your concepts most intriguing" and ICN Pharmaceuticals replied, "The results you have obtained with this drug in the treatment of gangrene have been most spectacular",[5] but DeMarco was never able to commercialize the therapy beyond his own medical practice. Swiss pharmaceutical company Debiopharm S.A. replied, "Drug induced cell regeneration appears to be a revolutionary new form of treatment which is bound to be perceived as highly controversial by several regulatory agencies. We are not in a position to take the considerable time and risk involved in convincing the bureaucrats."[6] Thus although intrigued, the pharmaceutical companies never showed a serious interest in developing his product. Regenerative medicine was a new field at the time and DeMarco likened the companies' antipathy of his discovery to the history of penicillin; although discovered in 1928, penicillin was not mass-produced until 1941 when production became a top priority World War II project to reduce the infection casualty rate.[7]

DeMarco's clinical use of a drug not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration came to the attention of regulators in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, leading to the suspension of his license to practice and the seizure of his supply of "Procaine-PVP". His supply of Procaine was found to be contaminated and mislabeled by investigators.[8] The New Jersey Department of Health traced 64 cases of infectious hepatitis to Dr. DeMarco.[9] Although not available at the time of his case, DNA sequence technology is now used by regulators to pinpoint the origin of an infection.

250 of DeMarco's patients organized a patient advocacy group called S.O.S. (Save Our Shots) and filed suit to restore his license and regain access to his formula. Unswayed by the patients' pleadings, the regulators denied the motion and all subsequent legal attempts.[9]

Theory and evidence[edit]

DeMarco's regenerative medicine theory was that procaine enables protein de novo synthesis by acting on cellular DNA activity causing epigenetic changes.[10] Equal to salamanders, starfish and similar life-forms, human regeneration would be possible by selective DNA gene expression.[11] His evidence was his human gangrene case study photographs. Although he had made hundreds of animal heart, liver and skin studies, he would always display his patients' results as validation, believing that, "Theory is good, but in the end you have to produce patient results in a clinical setting." He used time-lapse photography to demonstrate coordinated and accelerated healing while using his procaine-PVP formula. In the photo studies, certain wound healing processes appear visibly delayed while others look to be selectively accelerated in contrast to untreated wounds. Procaine's ability to retard certain wound healing processes has been well researched.[12] He hypothesized that these processes were DNA controlled with procaine interaction. DeMarco believed his chemically induced partial limb regeneration, scar tissue repression and coordinated tissue repair was a significant step forward in human regenerative medicine.[13]

Coordinated healing[edit]

DeMarco’s animal studies[14] showed a healing phenomenon he termed "coordinated healing". Observing that animal wounds would heal differently when treated with his formula, he tried to explain his observations: after excising a square inch of skin from a rabbit’s shaved back, he would allow it to heal normally while documenting its progress with time lapse photography. DeMarco than performed the same experiment while treating the rabbit with his formula. He observed that the untreated wound healed haphazardly; closing in a non-circular pattern with uneven levels and with infiltrating hair growth before wound closure. In contrast, the treated rabbit shows healing in a smooth circular pattern with even levels and only after wound closure would the hair begin to regrow.

DeMarco also observed this coordinated healing in humans with his gangrene patients.[14] Despite being diabetic, the treated wound would heal correctly with minimal scar tissue. Even the toe’s print pattern would return. Hair growth and scar tissue were suppressed while select de novo protein synthesis appeared to accelerate. He deduced that this coordinated healing pattern was a result of procaine-DNA interaction since procaine has been documented to influence DNA synthesis in simpler life forms (DNA activation in sea urchin eggs)[11] as well as humans (restores silenced gene expression).[15]

Once considered as pseudoscience[edit]

Dr. Robert W. Hobson, at the time the chief of surgical services at the Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange, testified in 1977 at a hearing in determining Dr. DeMarco's license revocation that conventional gangrene treatment would have been more effective despite statistics showing that about 50% of all diabetics with an amputation are dead 3 years after the amputation.[16][17]

Accolades and patents[edit]

DeMarco receives the Italian American Hall of Fame honor.
  • DeMarco was inducted into the Italian-American National Hall of Fame on September 9, 1984 for his scientific and humanitarian work.[18]
  • He received two US patents for his work, the first was titled: Treatment of arteriosclerotic diseases.[19] and the second was: Method of treatment of animal and human tissues damaged by burns and frank visible gangrene.[14]


  1. ^ "Once more, in search of miracles." The Philadelphia Inquirer - March 8, 1979.
  2. ^ via Associated Press. "DeMarco Using Cure-All Again", Reading Eagle, March 2, 1979. Accessed July 10, 2015. "'The year I was closed down in Pennsylvania 15 people died because they didn't get the drug,' DeMarco said in a telephone interview from his Pine Hill, N.J., home."
  3. ^ Villar-Garea, A; Fraga, MF; Espada, J; Esteller, M (Aug 15, 2003). "Procaine is a DNA-demethylating agent with growth-inhibitory effects in human cancer cells". Cancer Research. 63 (16): 4984–9. PMID 12941824. 
  4. ^ Ma, XW; Li, Y; Han, XC; Xin, QZ (November 2016). "The effect of low dosage of procaine on lung cancer cell proliferation.". European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. 20 (22): 4791–4795. PMID 27906420. 
  5. ^ Rinaldi, Ann. The Trentonian. (January 4, 1977)
  6. ^ Business correspondence, March 15, 1984
  7. ^ Pfizer Inc: Exploring Our History, 1900–1950
  8. ^ Written at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "State set to destroy drugs". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. February 8, 1979. p. 13. 
  9. ^ a b "Physician's patients want him reinstated" The New York Times. November 9, 1976
  10. ^ Villar-Garea, A; Fraga, MF; Espada, J; Esteller, M (15 August 2003). "Procaine is a DNA-demethylating agent with growth-inhibitory effects in human cancer cells.". Cancer research. 63 (16): 4984–9. PMID 12941824. 
  11. ^ a b Vacquier VD, Brandriff B (November 1975). "DNA synthesis in unfertilized sea urchin eggs can be turned on and turned off by the addition and removal of procaine hydrochloride". Developmental Biology. 47 (1): 12–31. PMID 1239388. doi:10.1016/0012-1606(75)90260-2. 
  12. ^ Drucker M, Cardenas E, Arizti P, Valenzuela A, Gamboa A (1998). "Experimental studies on the effect of lidocaine on wound healing". World J Surg. 22 (4): 394–7; discussion 397–8. PMID 9523522. doi:10.1007/s002689900403. 
  13. ^ DeMarco PT, -- "Cell Regeneration in Man." Townsend Letter for Doctors #23, p.4
  14. ^ a b c "US 4618490". 
  15. ^ Villar-Garea, A; Fraga, MF; Espada, J; Esteller, M (15 August 2003). "Procaine is a DNA-demethylating agent with growth-inhibitory effects in human cancer cells.". Cancer research. 63 (16): 4984–9. PMID 12941824. 
  16. ^ Donald Janson (May 3, 1977). "Surgeon Calls Dr. DeMarco's Drug Irrelevant in Treating Gangrene". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ Inderbitzi, R.; Büttiker, M.; Pfluger, D.; Nachbur, B. (1992-05-01). "The fate of bilateral lower limb amputees in end-stage vascular disease". European Journal of Vascular Surgery. 6 (3): 321–326. ISSN 0950-821X. PMID 1592136. 
  18. ^ September 9, 1984. Italian-American Hall of Fame Induction.
  19. ^ "US 3337406". 


  • Mesa MG, Duarte HÁ, Carretero JH, López MM, Vilas MM (May 2011). "De Marco Formula effectiveness as an adjunctive therapy to prevent infected ischemic diabetic foot amputation and reduce plasma fibrinogen". J Tissue Viability. 20 (2): 67–72. PMID 21211975. doi:10.1016/j.jtv.2010.12.003. 
  • Alvarez Duarte H, Fors López MM, Carretero JH, Vilas MM, García Mesa M (August 2010). "Tolerability and safety of conventional therapy combination with DeMarco formula for infected ischemic diabetic foot". J Tissue Viability. 19 (3): 116–22. PMID 20570516. doi:10.1016/j.jtv.2010.03.002. 
  • Mahia Vilas M, Hernández Carretero J, García Mesa M, Álvarez Duarte H, Valdés Pérez C, De Marco LG. (2010) "Microalbuminuria and immune system in patients with infected ischemic diabetic foot treated with De Marco Formula." Span. J. Surg. Res, Vol. XIII, Num. 1, (12-16), Año 2010.
  • Miriam Mahía Vilas; Héctor T. Álvarez Duarte; José G. Hernández Carretero; Milagros García Mesa; María Eugenia Triana Mantilla; Alicia Rodríguez Pérez. "Utilidad de la fórmula De Marco en pacientes diabéticos con complicaciones vasculares y su acción inmunomoduladora sobre la función de los linfocitos T. (Usefulness of De Marco formula in diabetic patients suffering vascular complications and its immunomodulating action on the T lymphocyte function.)" [1] Revista Cubana de Angiología y Cirugía Vascular. 2008; 9(1)
  • Duarte HA, Fernández Montequín JI, Fors López MM, Carretero JH, Vilas MM, Mesa MG. Duarte HA, Fernández Montequín JI, Fors López MM, Carretero JH, Vilas MM, Mesa MG (2009). "Clinical evaluation of De Marco formula as an adjunctive therapy for infected ischemic diabetic foot: a prospective randomized controlled trial". Can J Clin Pharmacol. 16 (2): e381–91. PMID 19966380. 
  • DeMarco Peter. "Treatment of Macular Degeneration." United States Patent Application, US 20040180090.