Drugs: Krebiozen Analyzed

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There were two secrets about Krebiozen: What is in it? And does it work? Yugoslav Emigre Dr. Stevan Durovic, who says he extracted the so-called anti-cancer drug from horse serum and brought it from Argentina to Illinois, has never identified the drug's ingredients, and both private and Government cancer experts for years refused to give the unknown substance wide trials with patients. Last week the first secret was out: the Food and Drug Administration stated flatly that Krebiozen is nothing more than the common amino acid derivative, creatine, found naturally in the muscle tissue of men and animals, and utterly ineffective in tests on animal cancer.

Dr. Durovic surrendered a sampling of Krebiozen to FDA agents last July, and at once chemists began systematic analysis with an infrared spectroscope. After the complex spectrogram was compared with that of thousands of other organic compounds, the pattern of Krebiozen was found to match that of creatine. Ironically, Krebiozen is much easier to produce than Dr. Durovic may realize; he uses benzene, in which creatine is highly insoluble, for extraction. Using plain water as a solvent for the process, he might get several hundred times more amino acid derivative from each horse.

Observing the FDA investigation were researchers from the National Bureau of Standards, the National Cancer Institute, and four universities. Even with such impeccable scientific credentials, the report is not likely to go uncontested. Krebiozen has strong emotional appeal and powerful political supporters (among them, Illinois' Senator Paul Douglas), and one of its most passionate promoters, Physiologist Andrew Conway Ivy, stubbornly insists that "creatine isn't Krebiozen. We're going ahead as in the past." But before long, the other secret of Krebiozen may be found: the National Cancer Institute is scrutinizing the records of 507 patients treated with Krebiozen, and its conclusions may finally end the controversy.