The history of enzyme therapy

At this point, MEF would like to provide an overview of the 200 years of discoveries and research in enzyme therapy necessary to bring us to the scientific level we are at today.

Enzymes were unknowingly used even back in the early days e.g. in brewing beer and producing wine. However, today we use them consciously and for specific purposes. Enzyme therapy did fall into oblivion in the course of history and therefore it took a long time for it to be accepted once it was rediscovered. Yet whatever works, wins through in the end but it requires idealistic people who dedicate their lives to their convictions. These idealists such as Prof. Max Wolf, Karl Ransbergerand Dr. med. Hellmut Münch. will also be addressed in this article.


Enzymes in early times

The indigenous peoples in Africa, Asia, Australia and America were already using the sap from the fig tree, the pulp of the papaya fruit or fresh pineapple for wound dressings in order to heal open ulcers or injuries better and faster. The healing of cancer sufferer King Hezekiah by means of a fig plaster is even reported in the Bible, in the Second Book of Kings.

Enzymes in ancient times

People in ancient times (Egyptians, Greeks, Arabs) believed in a mysterious force which could transform any substance into another, and the first chemists (derived from Greek chyme, “casting”) started to mix substances to make an elixir that yielded this transformation (e.g. milk into cheese, barley into beer or dough into bread).

First important discoveries

French natural scientist René Réamur (1683 – 1757) proved with the help of the Italian priest Lazzaro Spallanzani that a predatory bird’s food is not, as was previously believed, mechanically ground in the stomach but is decomposed through a substance in the gastric juices. A perforated metal capsule with meat content was fed to the predatory bird. As the bird regurgitated the capsule, it was empty. In a subsequent experiment, a sponge was added to the metal capsule to extract the bird’s gastric juice. The gastric juice was trickled onto meat and this decomposed.

In 1836, German scientist Theodor Schwann gave the name “pepsin” to the substance in the gastric juices that quite easily split and dissolved proteins. In 1837, Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius first considered a theory that this substance and/or substances were biocatalysts

metabolic catalysts.

First therapeutic experiments

Jean Senebier (1742 – 1809) spread animal gastric juice on the poorly healing wounds and open leg ulcers of his patients and achieved success with this approach

the proliferous tissue was dissolved and the healing process could start.


Louis Pasteur differentiated between biocatalysts which act within the cell (ferments fermentation) and those acting outside the cell. In 1878, Willy Kühne gave the name “enzyme” to the biocatalysts acting outside the cell. The confusion regarding the name “ferments” / “enzymes” was officially ended in 1897, and since then all biocatalysts have been referred to as “enzymes”.

BTreatment of cancer patients

Around 1900, Scottish physician John Beard achieved success in the treatment of cancer patients by applying aqueous extract from the fresh pancreas of piglets and lambs. Colleagues repeated this with prepared pancreas extracts and were unable to prove any effect. Consequently, therapy with enzymes was forgotten. At that time it was not yet known that enzymes stored over a longer period lose their activity.

Enzyme therapy was only rediscovered around 1930 by scientists Ernst Freund and Gisa Kaminer in Vienna. They observed how cancer cells kept in vitro (in a test tube) dissolved if the serum of healthy blood donors was added to their culture medium. In contrast, the serum of cancer patients was oncocytolytically inactive. This resulted in the so-called “Freund-Kaminer reaction”: the observed process is attributable to an inhibitor in the blood of cancer patients or respectively to a substance in the blood of healthy persons (so-called “normal substance”) which dissolves the inhibitor.

Biography of Prof. Max Wolf

Professor Max Wolf

Prof. Max Wolf was a universal genius. Born in 1885 in Vienna, he initially studied structural and civil engineer after finishing school. He became an engineer and achieved many technical inventions (e.g. a patent for a technical system to automatically stop misrouted trains). As this became too boring for him, he discovered his talent for painting and became court painter for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. He was in New York at the time of the outbreak of the First World War and started his medical studies there. Soon he became a professor of medicine at Fordham University in New York and acquired a total of 7 different doctoral degrees in his lifetime. He initially practiced as a gynaecologist and ENT specialist, wrote the first textbook on endocrinology and after this worked in applied genetics. Around 1930 he restricted his wide-ranging interests and concentrated merely on enzyme research because he had become aware of the key role and enormous possibilities of enzymes. He established contact with Freund and Kaminer in Vienna, and after Freund’s death he continued research on this “normal substance” which had been discovered by Freund. He soon determined that the inhibitors in the blood of cancer patients are eliminated by small quantities of chymotrypsin or plasmin.

Soon he correctly concluded that this “normal substance” involved enzymes: certain proteolytic enzymes (hydrolases) in the serum of healthy persons are involved in the selective destruction of malignant cells. He was also able to treat other health disorders with the aid of hydrolases. To be able to provide the correct type, quantity and quality of hydrolases, he established, along with his employee, cell culture technician Helen Benitez, the Biological Research Institute in New York. The suitable mixture of hydrolases, the so-called “Wolf-Benitez enzyme mixture” “WOBE enzymes” – was found after laborious research. The innocuousness and optimal dosage were verified using animal testing. Among the patients who Wolf treated with enzymes were Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Pablo Picasso, the Kennedys and many others. Professor Max Wolf died in 1976 aged 91 and handed over his scientific legacy to Karl Ransberger, who sat at his deathbed.

Biography of Karl Ransberger (1931 – 2001)

Karl Ransberger

Professor Max Wolf met Karl Ransberger (biologist) at the end of the 1950s. At this time Ransberger was working intensively with Professor Helmuth Haubold (physician) in Munich on vitamin research and investigating the connection between a vitamin A deficiency and certain illnesses. It concerned introducing vitamin A into the organism in such a way as to keep damage through larger quantities as minimal as possible. The problems of the safe uptake of the vitamin on the one hand and the problems of the safe uptake of enzymes in the organism on the other hand complemented each other ideally. Ransberger recognised the extent of this fascinating field and decided at barely 30 years to dedicate his efforts from now on only solely to enzymes and vitamin emulsions.

Initially, Ransberger collaborated on projects at the Biological Research Institute and then together with Wolf he established: Medizinische Enzymforschungsgesellschaft [Medical Enzyme Research Association MEF] in Munich, which is still active and exists to this day, in order to implement many other research projects there.

Ransberger assumed a tremendous burden with the scientific legacy from Prof. Max Wolf. He had to launch medicines which were not only laborious and thus expensive to produce onto the market but he also had to constantly increase the quality and quantity for the general public.

Sceptical experts also had to be convinced that the enzymes were safe to use, did not have any adverse effects, were compatible with other medications and triggered the purported health-promoting effects. Karl Ransberger set further milestones with the establishment of Mucos Pharma in Geretsried and the development of Phlogenzym® (bromelain preparation). Karl Ransberger died aged 70 and handed over his scientific legacy to Dr. Hellmut Münch.

Present and future – Dr. med. Hellmut Münch

Dr. med. Hellmut Münch

Dr. Hellmut Münch, born in 1965 in Munich, initially studied biology after the death of his father and then switched to medicine because he saw more opportunities to help people in that field. He was supported in this by Karl Ransberger, a friend of his late father. Ransberger made it possible for him to finance his studies through lectures on enzymes and enzyme therapy for Mucos Pharma. Ransberger took a liking to the young medical student and decided to promote him further and involve him in research efforts. So Dr Hellmut Münch was already actively involved in the development of Phlogenzym® and included in the planning of Wobenzym Phyto®. Unfortunately, Wobenzym Phyto® never made it onto the market because Karl Ransberger died in 2001. Before his death, on his 70th birthday, Karl Ransberger transferred the leadership of MEF to Dr. Hellmut Münch and thereby the task of pressing ahead with the science around enzymes. In 2005, under the leadership of Dr. Hellmut Münch, MEF developed Innovazym®, an enzyme preparation coupled with minerals, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and bioflavonoids, on the basis of Wobenzym Phyto®, which was planned in 2000. Among the innovations Dr. Hellmut Münch’s vision of the future is genetically produced designer enzymes which can be produced to individually suit the symptoms of the individual patient and thus increase the chances of recovery. MEF e.V. will also continue to provide advice for the development of new, high-quality enzyme preparations.