A Skeptical Look at Antimalignocyt (CH-23)

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
October 1, 2009

Antimalignocyt—originally marketed as “CH-23,” is an alleged cancer cure said to have been developed about 50 years ago by Prodan Hristov. The Association Antimalignocyt describes its history this way:

Prodan Hristov is a Bulgarian born in the village of Mrachenik, near Karlovo. In 1955 he emigrated to Vienna, Austria. He started studying medicine there and completed 7 semesters. But as it was not his dream he transferred into another major – Biochemistry—and he graduated it. He dedicated the first years after his graduation to scientific researches in the sphere of rejuvenation. However, at that time the number of oncological diseases was record-breaking in Vienna and he decided to direct his efforts to this sphere as he strived to get nearer nature and human biology. Only six month later he succeeded in discovering a medicine against cancer: Antimalignocyt [1].  

Antimalignocyt, which is administered intravenously, is said to be made from 2 herbs—peony and common mullein. One 5 ml vial is said to contain 500 mg of the active substances of these herbs bound to the amino acids glycine, alanine, L-valine, L-serine, L-cysteine, and L-asparagyne acid. Treatment is said to last 3-4 months [2].

The Association’s Web site also states:

  • Antimalignocyt heals all types of cancerous diseases by destroying only the cancerous cell without damaging the healthy one and is “100% nontoxic.”
  • During the 1960s, Hristov worked at a clinic operated by Joseph Issels where they had an 82% success rate in treating 1053 patients.
  • In 1967 Hristov opened a private clinic in Germany where he treated 600 more patients, but the clinic was shut down a year later by the local authorities.
  • Since that time several attempts have been made to legalize the treatment by registering it but was unsuccessful because “due to political changes and bureaucracy.” [3]
American Cancer Investigation

In the late 1960s, the American Cancer Society investigated CH-23 and found no evidence that its use can benefit cancer patients [4,5]. The society’s reports—which referred to Hristov by his anglicized name, Prodan Christoff—stated:

  • In 1959, Prodan and his brother Christo were permitted to carry out animal experiments at the Vienna Cancer Center but removed the resultant specimens before other could inspect them. After the director insisted that he prepare future specimens himself, he found negative results and the brothers accused him of lying and ended their relationship with the institute.
  • In the early 1960s, CH-23 was administered by Dr. Joseph Issels, who offered it in addition to two other disputed treatments.
  • In 1967 Hristov opened a clinic in West Germany, where he charged 3,000 marks for a single CH-23 treatment. However, the Bavarian Medical Society brought criminal charges against him and he closed the clinic after the government refused permission for him to remain in Germany.
  • Experiments with CH-23 carried out by a Professor Fleischacker and another doctor at Hanusch Hospital had negative results.
Why I Am Skeptical

Searching Medline and several prominent herbal databases, I could find no evidence that peony and mullein have any anti-cancer properties. It’s possible that there have been laboratory studies, but I could find no evidence that safety or effectiveness have been tested in humans. Hundreds of people have claimed that their remedies can treat all cancers, distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous tissue, and work without side effects. Such claims should not be regarded as credible because (a) cancers vary so much that there is very little hope of finding a simple “magic bullet” that is effective against all types and (b) all substances potent enough to exert therapeutic effects will be potent enough to have side effects. It’s also significant that even though CH-23/antimalignocyt has been around for 50 years, no credible evidence of effectiveness has been published.

  1. Antimalignocyt—the medicine against cancer. Association Antimalignocyt Web site, accessed September 30, 2009.
  2. Association Antimalignocyt home page, accessed Sept 30, 2009.
  3. Antimalignocyt dosage. Association Antimalignocyt Web site, accessed September 30, 2009.
  4. Unproven methods of cancer treatment: CH-23. CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 18:174-175, 1968.
  5. Unproven methods of cancer treatment: Issels Combination therapy. CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 22:188-191, 1972.

This article was posted on October 1, 2009