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(June 16–-20, 2003, Sivas, Turkey)

A summary of the meeting by

Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu and Mehmet Ali Akpinar


            The Sixth International Conference on Biotherapy took place in the Cultural Center of the Cumhuriyet University in Sivas, Turkey on June 16–20, 2003. The honorary presidents were the Governor of Sivas Dr. Hasan Canpolat, and Prof. Ferit Kocoglu, Rector of Cumhuriyet University. The International Organizing Committee included: Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu (Israel), (Chairman), Theodore Cherbuliez (USA), John C.T. Church (UK), Wim Fleischmann (Germany), Olga S. Gilyova (Russia), Andrew Jarvis (UK) and Jacqueline Miller (Israel). The Local Organizing Committee included: Mehmet Ali Akpinar (Chairman), Kadri Canan, Aysegul Taylan-Ozkan, Nukhet Akpinar, Semra Ozcelik, Bulent Unver, Sabri Kilinc, Engin Araz, Musa Sari, Bulent Alten, Mehmet Tanyuksel and Fikret Unsal. The Scientific Committee members were: Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu (Israel) (Chairman), Mehmet Ali Akpinar (Turkey) and Jacqueline Miller (Israel). The Conference was sponsored by the Governor of Sivas, the Cumhuriyet University and the Kangal Spa Management.

            All participants from abroad were welcomed by members of the local organizing committee  at Kayseri airport and transferred to their hotels in Sivas.

A half-day city tour was organized on June 16, for those who had arrived the previous day. In the afternoon of June 16  participants were able to register for the conference  and take part  in the get-together party at  the Ismet Inönü House of Sivas.

             Dr. Hasan Canpolat, Governor of Sivas, Mr. Kadri Canan, Deputy Governor of Sivas, Prof. Ferit Kocoglu, Rector of the Cumhuriyet University, approximately 120 participants from 17 countries as well as several journalists and guests were present at the opening ceremony. The  proceedings began  with a short piano concert followed by the opening speech of Dr. Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu, President of the International Biotherapy Society. Dr Mumcuoglu,  who spoke in both English and Turkish, thanked all the participants for coming to Sivas, explained how the idea to organize the   Conference  in Sivas was born and  described in detail how the  cooperation between the International Organizing Committee and Local Organizing Committee had succeeded in bringing  this idea to fruition.

            The Governor of Sivas handed over commemorative plaques to Drs Cherbuliez, Church, Gilyova, Jarvis, Kim, Fleischmann and Mumcuoglu, while Dr. Mumcuoglu presented similar plackets to the Governor of Sivas and to Rector of the University.

            The Conference   included the following sessions: Maggot Debridement Therapy, Hirudotherapy, Apitherapy, Ichthiotherapy and Biodiagnostics.  There were 9 invited lectures, 23 contributed papers and 17 posters.  At the end of each session, a round-table discussion was organized to discuss all aspects of biotherapy.

            On Tuesday, June 17 the IBS Executive Members held their Annual Meeting to discuss the future of the Society. Dr. Mumcuoglu was elected  President of the Society for an additional year. Dr. Kim will  examine the possibility of   organizing the next IBS conference in Seoul, South Korea. Dr. Fleischmann is interested in organizing a seminar on maggot debridement therapy in Germany within two years.

            In the evening of July 17, Conference participants were invited   to a Cocktail Party at  the restaurant of  Ticaret and Sanayi Odasi  in the presence  of the Governor of Sivas, his deputy, the Rector of the University and  approximately 40 guests, mainly representatives of the government and the Sivas Municipality.

            Later on the same evening, Drs. Akpinar, Gilyova, Kim, Mumcuoglu and Taylan-Ozkan gave an interview  for  local TV about biotherapy in general and the IBS Conference.

            On Wednesday afternoon, June 18  in the frame of the IBS General  Assembly the present situation of biotherapy and the steps which should be taken in future to develop biotherapy to an internationally recognized sector of alternative medicine were discussed.

            In the evening, participants were invited  to have dinner  at the DSI Guesthouse with  the Deputy Mayor of Sivas, Mr. Suleyman Karaca. There was  musical entertainment and two singers sang Turkish songs.  Visitors were invited to join their hosts in dancing   traditional Turkish dances.

            On Thursday, June 19, a whole-day tour to Divrigi and Kangal Balikli Spa was organized.  On the way, there were visits to kennels where  the famous Kangal shepherd dogs are bred  and also to local  beekeepers. After lunch the famous mosque, Ulu Cami (Divrigi), which was appointed   a World Heritage site by UNESCO, was visited. In the afternoon at  the Kangal Spa  participants had the opportunity to go into the pools and have a direct contact with the “doctor fish”. Participants of the Biotherapy Conference were  given a lecture about the Kangal Spa and the fish in the pools. The resident  physicians explained  how the fish in the pools cured the symptoms of  psoriasis and other diseases.   

            On Friday, June 20, a gala evening was organized  at the Buyuk Hotel. The Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullatif Sener, the Governor and Deputy Governor of Sivas, several members of  parliament and approximately 50 representatives of the Government and Sivas Municipality, as well as some teaching staffs of Cumhuriyet University were present.

            From the discussions with participants of the conference and later through the E-mails, which the organizing committees received, it was concluded that the conference was very successful from the scientific and social  point of view and also very well organized. People returned to their homes  with  new ideas, new friendships and new partners for future collaboration.



Report on the Sixth International Biotherapy Conference,

held in the Cumhuriyet University, Sivas, Turkey,

from June 16th – 20th 2003


By John C.T. Church


            This was a unique event.  The International Biotherapy Society (IBS), since 1996, has held previous conferences in the UK, Israel and Germany. Each of these conferences was successful, and contributed significantly to the development of Biotherapy internationally.  However, none can be compared with the very special blend of the scientific and social programmes, as put together for this conference, by our Turkish hosts.  There were about 110 participants, representing sixteen countries, the widest global cover yet.

     The venue was ideal.  The extensive and well laid out Cumhuriyet University campus is situated about seven kilometres from Sivas city centre.  It is a thriving University, with over 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.  The Cultural Centre of the University has state-of-the-art facilities, with all that could be desired for a scientific meeting of this type.  Refreshments were available there, and the luncheon service, provided in the Main Cafeteria, was excellent.

     The scientific programme was carefully constructed with the tireless efforts of our IBS President, together with the input from the local organising committee.  There was a good balance of the main topics addressed: Maggot Therapy, Hirudotherapy, Apitherapy and Ichthiotherapy.  The conference language was English.  The quality of English spoken by our Turkish colleagues was exemplary, and completely eclipsed attempts to master even a few words of Turkish, at least for those of us who were first time visitors to the country.

     The main topics had a broad coverage, addressing the global situation as much as specific scientific detail.  The quality of the presentations, almost all using Power-Point, was of a high order.  There was some duplication of factual data, in some of the presentations, but this could readily be streamlined by preview between the presenters.

    From the biological viewpoint, there was a far-reaching spectrum of factual detail, pertaining to each of the organisms, whether fly larvae, leeches, bees, fish or ‘cancer-sniffer’ dogs.  In the study on the biology and behaviour, under varying environmental conditions, of these organisms, there are of course a number of factors that are specific to each.  However, the study of such factors is often difficult, if not virtually impossible, to measure scientifically. Thus, for instance, there is no question that a ‘happy’ or at least unstressed, maggot, leech, bee, fish or dog will behave optimally, whether in its natural state or in an environment determined for it by clinicians or scientists.  However, what units can we use to measure ‘happiness’ or even levels of stress? All would agree that no two dogs are ever exactly alike, let alone their trainers and handlers.  Similarly, there is no such thing as a standard bee, or leech or maggot, and certainly not fish.  The two species of fish in the Kangal spa pools were present in a wide range of sizes.  

     Even at the ‘reductionist’ level of scientific study, there are surprises.  Propolis, a material elaborated by bees from resins harvested from trees and shrubs, has been analysed biochemically, and at least three antimicrobial compounds have been identified, isolated and purified.  Propolis can be elaborated by bees in a wide range of environments, from differing plant species.  This leads to the production of a number of varieties of propolis.  All have equivalent antimicrobial action, but some do not contain the three compounds so far identified.  This illustrates the complexity of the natural compounds, or of the organisms that elaborate them (in this case bees), and reveals the depth of the ‘fuzziness’, or uncertainty, at the perimeter of such scientific study.

     One of the most fascinating aspects of Biotherapy is the overlap of biological phenomena, and the cross-fertilisation of ideas that follows from the combined study of these phenomena.  For instance, concerning host-parasite relationships, similar questions can be asked of maggots, leeches, bees, fish and dogs. How does a specific host manage the microbial life, which is found as much within it, as on its surface, or in its immediate environment? How are respective immunological reactions and responses activated and maintained, often to the mutual benefit of both host and parasite, or at least to ensure the survival of the parasite?  There is a highly specific measure of control, both of microbial species that are found, or conversely not found, within the intestinal tract of a maggot or a leech, or within a bee, or its hive.  Plants also exhibit many of these features.  All these hosts, and their microbes, are inter-dependant.  None of them lives entirely without microflora.  One can ask, how do they control the biology of these microbes, many of which compete with each other, and how should we study this control and competition, so as to ultimately introduce it into human and veterinary medicine, to the benefit of our patients? 

     Bacteria have a virtually universal mechanism whereby they can survive in adverse environments, by the elaboration of bio-film, a slimy protective muco-polysaccharide extra-cellular matrix anchored to a biologically neutral, usually inert, base material.  Biofilm is ubiquitous: it is found, as calcar, in the mouth of higher order animals, such as dogs and man.  There is also biofilm in chronic wounds, in association with dead necrotic tissue.  There was evidence of possible biofilm formation at the edge of the pools in which the scavenger fish operate.  There is evidence that maggot exo-secretions not only inhibit the formation of biofilm, but also can actively dissolve it, in chronic wounds.  A great deal of study is demanded to identify the nature of these wide-ranging biofilms, at least as they pertain to our focus of attention, in biotherapy.

     There is one particular human condition that intriguingly could illustrate the combined or consecutive use of several biotherapeutic methods.  Over the past eight years or so, numerous chronic venous ulcers, usually situated around or above the ankle have been successfully treated with maggots.  Equally, we were presented with good evidence that leeches placed around the margins of such an ulcer, will aid recovery by improving the venous drainage from the area.  Honey is a good adjuvant in bacterial control, after debridement, in a chronic wound.  Scavenger fish are known to clean up open wounds.  Dogs could be in principle trained to recognise cancerous change in a chronic wound!  ‘Green  Medicine’, for such wounds, would of course include the human practitioner, who would use conventional support with compression bandaging, and specific pharmaceutical agents, but could also resort to vacuum drainage, hyperbaric oxygen, skin grafting or other surgical procedures, to ensure healing.  This whole, perhaps somewhat fanciful, scenario nonetheless illustrates a central tenet and expectation of Biotherapy, that it should ultimately become an integral part of modern medicine, globally.  

     The social programme was a delight. Our local hosts, Professor Mehmet Akpinar, and Dr. Ferit Kocoglu, Rector of CumhuRIyet University, looked after us in great style.  We were honoured to meet not only local public figures, but it was a particularly great honour to be the guests of the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, at the banquet on the last evening of the conference.  Our activities were also well represented on television and in the press.  Turkish hospitality has a great reputation internationally and we had abundant experience of this throughout the conference.

     In the evenings, we were treated to banquets and a cocktail reception.  We were charmed to be introduced to Turkish culture, and easily succumbed to the irresistible music and dance that graced these occasions. The highlight of the tour, on the Thursday during the conference, was the visit to the Kangal Balikli spa, to meet the ‘scavenger fish’. Our hosts there looked after us admirably. Those of us who braved an interaction in the pool, that evening, with the fish, will never forget the experience! That day also included a meeting with the national Kangal dogs, and some interaction with bees, in an apiary in the field. For those who were able to go, the post-conference two-day tour to Capaddocia was also unforgettable, offering such a range of terrain, culture and local history.

     We would welcome further feedback, from participants to this conference.  Plans are in hand for further International Conferences.  Details will be posted on the IBS Website: http://biotherapy.md.huji.ac.il





A. During the conference: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

B. Trip to City of Sivas: 1, 2, 3

C. Entertainment: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

D. Trip to Kangal Spa: Photos: 1, 2

C. Trip to Cappadocia: Photos: 1, 2, 3







Copyright © 2007 Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
Last modified: 01/01/07