Cheap, Safe Drug Kills Most Cancers (DCA)


    new scientist has received an unprecedented amount of interest in this story from readers. if you would like up-to-date information on any plans for clinical trials of dca in patients with cancer, or would like to donate towards a fund for such trials, please visit the site set up by the university of alberta and the alberta cancer board. we will also follow events closely and will report any progress as it happens.

    it sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their "immortality". the drug, dichloroacetate (dca), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.
    it also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

    evangelos michelakis of the university of alberta in edmonton, canada, and his colleagues tested dca on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed dca-laced water for several weeks.
    dca attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. this process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar.

    until now it had been assumed that cancer cells used glycolysis because their mitochondria were irreparably damaged. however, michelakis's experiments prove this is not the case, because dca reawakened the mitochondria in cancer cells. the cells then withered and died (cancer cell, doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2006.10.020).

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  3. by   oramar
    This is quite interesting but I will have to see a lot more data before I go, "Whoopie, cancer cure".
  4. by   wooh
    This is certainly interesting. Looking forward to more research! When drugs are already approved for other uses, isn't it easier to get to the point of human trials for off-label use?
  5. by   Miss Chybil RN
    Quote from wooh
    this is certainly interesting. looking forward to more research! when drugs are already approved for other uses, isn't it easier to get to the point of human trials for off-label use?
    that's what they say. here is more information from the university of alberta:

    investigators at the university of alberta have recently reported that a drug previously used in humans for the treatment of rare disorders of metabolism is also able to cause tumor regression in a number of human cancers growing in animals. this drug, dichloroacetate (dca), appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells without affecting normal cells, suggesting that it might not have the dramatic side effects of standard chemotherapies.

    at this point, the university of alberta, the alberta cancer board and capital health do not condone or advise the use of dichloroacetate (dca) in human beings for the treatment of cancer since no human beings have gone through clinical trials using dca to treat cancer. however, the university of alberta and the alberta cancer board are committed to performing clinical trials in the immediate future in consultation with regulatory agencies such as health canada. we believe that because dca has been used on human beings in phase 1 and phase 2 trials of metabolic diseases, the cancer clinical trials timeline for our research will be much shorter than usual.

    this website will be updated frequently to reflect progress in our efforts.
    here's what my professor wrote me when i sent him this article.

    i had not heard of this particular study or drug, but i am familiar with some of the roles that mitochondria play in cancer cells, specifically the apoptosis issue. lots of research over the past 10 years has focused on determining the molecular players that are involved in turning on cell death via mitochondria. it was thought that potential therapies could be derived from the manipulation of a cancer-specific player that could turn on cell death only in cancer cells. essentially, that is what has happened here, but the researchers have approached the problem from the standpoint of metabolism rather than apoptosis. very elegant, and completely appropriate for our upcoming lectures on microbial metabolism.
  6. by   edsdcs
    thats awesome
  7. by   GLORIAmunchkin72
    It's downfall could be that it is cheap and simple.
  8. by   lamazeteacher
    and the tooth fairy is alive and well......
  9. by   GLORIAmunchkin72
    You never know...
    Quote from lamazeteacher
    and the tooth fairy is alive and well......
  10. by   Beech1184
    Thanks for this article. I had seen the report on the news but they didn't identify the drug or the researchers. I have lost one brother to Multiple Myeloma and my remaining brother has Waldenstroms' Maculoglobulinemia another plasma cancer, so I'm interested in any advances in research.
  11. by   Miss Chybil RN
    There is an update to the DCA research going on at the University of Alberta. They have secured most of the funding and full authorization to proceed with two clinical trials of this drug. They are now recruiting patients. You can find more information here:

    Click on the update of Sept. 24, 2007.

    I believe this is a tremendous breakthrough in cancer research. Let's all keep our fingers crossed!