Some Notes on the Bradford
Variable Projection Microscope
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
The Bradford Variable Projection Microscope (BVPM®) is said to have been invented by Robert W. Bradford and Gregory D. Yost, is a high- resolution microscope system that was patented in 1996  and marketed to practitioners for use in examining blood specimens. The schematic drawing to the right is from the patent document with the part numbers removed. The procedure, which Bradford calls "high resolution blood morphology," is carried out by placing a drop of blood from the patient's fingertip on a microscope slide under a glass cover slip to keep it from drying out. The slide is then viewed at high magnification with the microscope and the image is projected the image to a television screen where the practitioner and patient can view it. Over the years, a few other manufacturers have marketed similar systems, and the procedure has been called live blood cell analysis, live cell analysis, dark-field video microscopy, nutritional blood analysis, and several other names.
Dark-field microscopy is a valid scientific tool in which special lighting is used to examine specimens of cells and tissues. The objects being viewed stand out against a dark background—the opposite of what occurs during regular microscopy. This allows the observer to see things that might not be visible with standard lighting. Connecting a television monitor to a microscope for diagnostic purposes is also a legitimate practice. However, live cell analysis is not. Most of its users are chiropractors, naturopaths, or bogus "nutrition consultants." 
According to the Bradford Research Institute Web site:
The Bradford [Blood] Assessment allows the medical practitioner, from a simple drop of peripheral blood, to evaluate and identify 83 blood morphologies correlating with 147 risk factors. The BVPM® enables the practitioner within minutes to quickly, easily and cost effectively detect the subtle biochemical shifts that occur in the body, opening the way for innovative treatments as well as therapeutic follow-up to manage disease states and metabolic imbalances, thereby facilitating the patient’s optimal health. describes the "Bradford Assessment" as "the most promising biologicial probe in assessing health" and claims that the test can determine more than 83 "blood morphologies" and 147 risk factors." 
Bradford has also developed a large line of proprietary compounds prescribed by offbeat practitioners. The products are marketed by C.R.B., Inc., of Chula Vista, California, which does business as American Biologics. The products include Bismacine (a/k/a Chromacine), Dioxychlor, and Sulfoxime, all of which are intended to be administered intravenously. In the Townsend Letter, Bradford wrote that he developed Bismacine in 2004 and that it and all three products were effective against Lyme disease [4,5]. He also claimed that the microscope was especially useful in detecting the spirochete that causes Lyme disease. Bradford promoted these methods through several publications as well as through symposia for medical doctors. Neither the device nor the three products had FDA approval, so they were not legal to market in interstate commerce.
Bradford's scheme began to unravel when John R. Toth, M.D., of Topeka, Kansas, got into trouble. In June 2005, the Kansas Board of Healing Arts restricted his practice after two patients he treated with Bismacine were hospitalized with life-threatening complications. One, whom Toth had treated for 11 years for Lyme disease, had kidney failure. The other had a cardiac arrest in Toth's office and was taken to the hospital unconscious. Two weeks later, the board concluded that the first patient had been misdiagnosed and that the bismuth product contained a toxic metal. In December 2005, Toth signed a consent agreement that inactivated his license . The patient who had the cardiac arrest remained unconscious and died in April 2006. In July 2006, the FDA  and Health Canada  issued public warnings about Bismacine. Toth was subsequently pleaded "no contest" to a state of reckless involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 32 months in prison . As part of the plea agreement, he permanently surren\dered his medical license.
In 2008, Bradford, Toth, C.R.B., Inc., and C.R.B.'s chief operating officer Brigitte G. Bird were charged with conspiring to violate federal food and drug laws and defraud individuals seeking medical care . The indictment states:
- Toth was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, eight counts of mail fraud, one count of introducing unapproved drugs, one count of introducing a misbranded drug, one count of receiving and distributing a misbranded drug, and one count of introducing a misbranded medical device.
- Bradford, 77, was charged with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of mail fraud, five counts of introducing unapproved drugs, five counts of introducing misbranded drugs, five counts of receiving and distributing misbranded drugs, and one count of introducing a misbranded medical device.
- Byrd and C.R.B., Inc were charged with one count of conspiracy, eight counts of mail fraud, five counts of introducing unapproved drugs, four counts of introducing misbranded drugs, four counts of receiving and distributing misbranded drugs, and one count of introducing a misbranded medical device.
- Marketing materials claimed that Lyme disease was “the plague of the 21st century” and was a contributing factor in 50% of all chronic illness including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- During the conspiracy, Toth was licensed as a medical doctor in Kansas. He was the director of The Luke Center for Integrative Health, Inc., in Topeka and established the Alternative Therapies Health Association.
- Bradford, Byrd, and C.R.B., Inc., executed a marketing plan aimed at creating demand for Bradford’s microscope and products they sold for treating Lyme disease. In fact, there was no epidemic of Lyme disease, the microscope could not diagnose it, and the products could not cure it.
- Between April 2004 to August 2006, Bradford, Byrd, and C.R.B made more than $400,000 from the fraudulent scheme.
In June 2009, Carl E. Haese, owner and operator of The Haese Clinic of Integrative Medicine in Cruces, New Mexico, was charged with fraud in connection with diagnosing and treating people for Lyme disease. The criminal complaint stated that he made his diagnoses with the Bradford microscope and treated patients with Dioxychlor and Sulfoxine .
Bradford, his wife Carol, and Byrd pleaded guilty and admitted they were part of a conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. In March 2011, they were sentenced to serve five years on probation, forfeit assets, and pay restitution . Robert died on August 4, 2011.
- Bradford RW, Yent GD. Microscopy system. Patent No, 5,666,020. Oct 15, 1996.
- Barrett S. Live blood cell analysis: Another gimmick to sell you something. Quackwatch, June 30, 2009.
- Microscope assessments. Bradford Research Institute, accessed June 30, 2009.
- Bradford RW, Allen HA. Lyme disease, potential plague of the 21st Century. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, Jan 2005.
- Bradford RW, Allen HA. Biochemistry of Lyme disease: Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete/cyst. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, Feb/March 2006.
- John R. Toth, M.D., Agrees to Inactivate Medical License
- Fry S. Doctor seeks closed hearing. Topeka Capital-Journal, Aug 22, 2006.
- FDA warns consumers and health care providers not to use Bismacine, also known as Chromacine. FDA press release, July 26, 2006.
- Health Canada warns consumers not to use unauthorized intravenous health products due to potential health risks. Warning 2006-99, Oct 13, 2006.
- Toth receives 32 months in death of patient. The Topeka Capital-Journal, March 29, 2008.
- Criminal complaint. USA v Carl E, Haese, Case No. 091582 mj. June 5, 2009.
- California residents sentenced for selling phony Lyme disease cure. U.S. Attorney's Office press release, March 2, 2011.
This article was revised on October 12, 2014.