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From The Cancer Chronicles #27
© June 1995 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

Listeners to Dr. Robert Atkins' popular radio show (Design for Living) may have heard him speak about his positive results with an anticancer compound called Ukrain. Because cancer therapy including Ukrain is quite expensive ($10,000-$20,000 per year) readers have wondered if this a scam or if this agent is really valuable?

Ukrain was first developed in 1978 by Dr. Wassyl J. Nowicky, director of the Ukrain Anti-Cancer Institute of Vienna, Austria and unveiled at the 13th International Congress of Chemotherapy in Vienna in August 1983. Ukrain (spelled like Dr. Nowicky's native country, but without the final "E") is classified as a semisynthetic "reaction product" or "conjugate" created by the merger of a common herb, Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus L.) and one of the oldest cytotoxic drugs, thiotepa.

Greater Celandine is a poppy-like plant, filled with a bright and acrid orange-colored juice. It has long been stated in the folk literature to have disease-fighting effects. According to a classic 1931 herbal, "greater celandine is a very popular medicine in Russia, where it is said to have proved effective in some cases of cancer" [Grieve, M. A Modern Herbal, NY: Dorset Press, 1931, 1994 (reprint), p. 179.]. A tincture or lower attenuations are used in homeopathy, mainly as a liver remedy.

Greater Celandine contains alkaloids, such as chelidonine, which have anticancer potential. By analogy, we know that the common periwinkle contains alkaloids that yield two standard anticancer agents, Vinblastine and Vincristine. Also, the plant astragalus yields an alkaloid called swainsonine, which has been shown at Howard University to have anticancer activity.

Such alkaloids taken by themselves can be irritating or even toxic. So too is the drug thiotepa. What makes Ukrain so unique is that this forced marriage of herb and drug yields a compound that is almost totally lacking in toxicity to normal cells. Yet it seems to have a strong affinity for killing cancer cells. In hamsters and rats, for example, no clinical signs of toxicity or damage to embryos could be found. The only toxicity was a slight decrease in the average hamster litter size. Nor does Ukrain induce anaphylactic shock in mice or guinea pigs. In addition, for three years healthy human volunteers in Poland, Austria, and Germany received repeated courses of the new drug. There was some local pain, and a few reported cases of drowsiness, as well as increased thirst and urge to urinate. But there were no other significant changes.

Ukrain is patented in both Europe and the U.S. and has been the subject of many scientific papers.In this article we shall encapsulate some of the scientific work that supports the use of this compound.


First of all, Ukrain has been tested against 60 different human cancer cell lines at the National Cancer Institute. In practically all cell lines a 100 percent growth inhibition was found. One possible mechanism: in the test tube, Ukrain increases the oxygen consumption of both normal and malignant cells; but while oxygen consumption normalizes in non-cancerous cells within 15 minutes, it decreases irreversibly to zero in cancer cells, effectively killing them. Ukrain has been shown to decrease DNA, RNA and protein synthesis in malignant cells. It is thus highly toxic to cancer cells, but shows little or no toxicity to non-cancerous cells in the test-tube (e.g., endothelial cells or fibroblasts). Developers call this its "malignotoxicy." It has also been shown to accumulate at the site of a tumor or its metastases.

In mice, Ukrain is also a powerful biological response modifier (BRM), or stimulator of the immune system. Most scientists believe that cancer is accompanied by some degree of breakdown of the immune system and can be influence by modulation of that system.

But BRMs such as high-dose interleukins have many undesirable side effects (see article, p. 2). But when Ukrain was given intravenously to mice, it has a pronounced tumor growth inhibiting activity— a "striking therapeutic effect."By day 15, only one out of five such mice had developed tumors, while all five control mice had tumors and were already beginning to show signs of cachexia (wasting), according to doctors at the University of Miami. This difference was attributed to the stimulation of macrophages, part of the immune system.

A study of 70 "terminal" cancer patients, conducted under contract to the Ministry of Science and Research of Austria, found that the drug was: "Cytostatic or cytotoxic to human leukemias, non small and small cell lung cancers, colon cancers, central nervous system cancer, melanomas, ovarian cancer and renal cancer."

Interestingly, in the NCI cell studies, the drug was found to yield special inhibition of colon, stomach, ovarian, kidney, small cell and non small cell and melanoma cells—almost identical to what was seen clinically.

In the clinical trial, the drug was given either intramuscularly or intravenously either every day or every second to fifth day, for ten days to three months. There was some slight transient pain on intramuscular injection. Some patients complained or drowsiness or exhaustion, but quickly regain "an even better condition than before." Doctors attributed these symptoms to the "absorption of degradation products of the tumors, as they were present mainly in patients with strong tumor regressions." In general, patients who had a weak response to Ukrain also experienced little heat or pain in the tumor sites.

Also, "definite changes in the blood parameters and/or metastases could be seen when remission of tumors and/or metastases occurred." To those who doubt the power of the immune system to cancer, we might point out the following statement: During and after Ukrain therapy in patients, an increased number of lymphocytes, macrophages and segmented leucocytes were seen in the blood picture." Ukrain also normalized the metabolism, and especially the equilibrium of mineral salts and trace elements, even without changes in the diet of the patients.

In another paper, it was shown that Ukrain caused a long-term regression of Ewing's sarcoma in a nine year old boy, who had failed to respond to chemotherapy or radiation treatment. European scientists conclude that "though Ukrain may not be able to cure advanced stages of cancer, it can be helpful in improving the patient's general condition and prolonging life by reducing the tumor progression."

Investigation of Ukrain is now underway not just in Austria, but at many institutions in Canada, France, Germany the Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand and even Swaziland. Yet it is extremely unlikely one will hear about this from one's oncologist in North America. To our knowledge, Ukrain is only available through unconventional clinics, such as that of Dr. Atkins. Thus, regardless of its origin, any anticancer drug that is non-toxic eventually becomes part of "alternative medicine."

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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