DCA (Dichloroacetate) Cancer Research
Effective Treatment for Many Different Types of Tumor via Activation & Normalization of Mitochondrial Function?
Copyright © August 2007 Healing Cancer Naturally
I recently received the following letter from a site visitor:
"I today came across an interesting development related to the Budwig Diet [to which Healing Cancer Naturally gives c. 100 pages of coverage]. It seems a Canadian researcher has discovered that a drug already used in humans to treat rare metabolic disorders has the astonishing effect of destroying all cancer cells.
His website is www.depmed.ualberta.ca/dca/*. On that website you can find further links to his research paper and articles published by reputable Economist and NewScientist magazines.
What really struck me about his discovery is the relevance to the Budwig diet. To give you a general background, this drug, DCA, triggers the mitochondria in cancer cells to become active again which then leads to the death of the cancer cell by apoptosis. Indeed, he built upon the work of Otto Warburg (1930) in his paper, just as Budwig did with her diet.
Sadly, there is a twist to this story and that is that because the drug has been in use to treat rare metabolic disorders for decades it no longer has a patent. Therefore, no pharmaceutical company can make any significant amount of money from this treatment and so the researcher has had to start his own website (linked above) to generate funds from the public and philanthropic private sources. I believe the Canadian government has provided him with some funding also.
I think this is amazing news for the Budwig diet - well at least the parallels are quite clear to me and this discovery may be worth incorporating into your Healing Cancer Naturally website."
* Now www.dca.med.ualberta.ca/ which is inaccessible to the public.
Richard’s letter made me look into the subject of DCA and here is a summary of what I found:
Cardiologist Evangelos D. Michelakis, MD, FACC, FAHA, Associate Professor of Medicine working at the Department of Medicine, University of Alberta Canada recently discovered that DCA (an inexpensive, relatively non-toxic, odourless and colourless small molecule) causes regression in several types of cancer in laboratory experimentation, including breast, brain and lung tumors. His research results have attracted comments such as "If there were a magic bullet, though, it might be something like dichloroacetate, or DCA…" (Newsweek, January 23, 2007) and a review published by "Science" titled "Metabolic Targeting as an Anti-cancer Strategy; Dawn of a New Era?" (see the media section of depmed.ualberta.ca/dca for a copy of this paper).
DCA has been used for decades to treat children with rare congenital disorders of metabolism due to mitochondrial diseases since DCA activates a critical mitochondrial enzyme. Mitochondria are the energy-producing units in cells. As early as the 1930s, researchers noticed that these organelles dysfunction in cases of cancer.
It was thought until recently that mitochondria affected by cancer have suffered permanent damage, with the mitochondrial damage resulting from the cancer (and not being the cause of cancer). Questioning this assumption, Dr. Michelakis began testing (in vitro and in vivo, i.e. in test tubes and animal models) DCA’s ability to "revive" cancer-affected mitochondria.
Intriguing results with cancer
To his and his colleagues’ surprise, DCA was found to normalize the mitochondrial function in numerous cancers, showing that while the function of these organelles was actively suppressed by the cancer, it was not permanently damaged by the disease.
The same in-vitro and in-vivo tests also revealed that this normalization of mitochondrial function resulted in a significant decrease in tumor growth. DCA, in contrast to most currently used chemotherapies, had no effects whatsoever on normal, non-cancerous tissues. In other words, DCA caused tumor regression in a number of human cancers growing in animals, suppressing the growth of cancer cells while not affecting normal cells (as opposed to the serious side effects observed with standard chemotherapies).
According to Dr. Michelakis, "... DCA can be selective for cancer because it attacks a fundamental process in cancer development that is unique to cancer cells."
Dario Alteri, Director of the University of Massachusetts Cancer Center said about DCA: "The results are intriguing because they point to the critical role that mitochondria play: they impart a unique trait to cancer cells that can be exploited for cancer therapy".
Special advantages of DCA
Due to its small size, the DCA molecule is easily absorbed in the tissues, and upon oral ingestion, is able to reach areas in the body that other drugs cannot attain, allowing to treat for instance brain cancers. Dr. Michelakis: "One of the really exciting things about this compound is that it might be able to treat many different forms of cancer".
Long-term experience with dichloroacetate:
DCA has been used in both healthy people and those with mitochondrial diseases for over 20 years, which showed its relative non-toxicicity.
DCA and lactic acid
Interestingly, DCA causes lowered production of lactic acid in the mitochondria (see e.g. "Influence of dichloroacetate on lactate production and oxygen consumption in neuroblastoma cells" found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/22508045). Knowing that eminent German cancer researcher Dr Dr Johannes Kuhl successfully treated numerous cancer patients with his therapy which aimed at removing excess lactic acid stores from cells (via lactic acid introduced into the body "in statu nascendi"), it seems permissible to wonder if the lowered lactic-acid production triggered by DCA is one of its main working principles.
Some DCA cancer case studies
The Medicor Cancer Centres (Canada) have published a number of DCA case studies (patients with metastasised kidney, lung, or ovarian cancer, ampulla of Vater carcinoma, glioblastoma multiforme, melanoma with brain metastases, and mesothelioma - see http://medicorcancer.com/treatments/case-studies/). They concluded that DCA treatment has definite potential for advanced-stage cancer patients - responses included tumor shrinkage, lowered tumor markers (CA-125), general (alkaline phosphatase, liver enzymes etc.) as well as symptomatic improvement (better appetite, weight gain, lessening of pain, bowel and ureteric obstruction relieved).
Research sponsors needed
In contrast to the very expensive chemotherapeutic agents, the DCA compound could be an inexpensive cancer drug to administer since it is unpatented and not owned by a pharmaceutical company. By the same token, funding from private investors allowing the conducting of clinical trials of DCA on cancer patients may/will be hard to come by. So far, support has been given by publicly funded agencies like the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). Dr. Philip Branton, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Cancer comments:
"This preliminary research is encouraging and offers hope to thousands ... who are afflicted by cancer, as it accelerates our understanding of and action around targeted cancer treatments."
Clinical trials of DCA on cancer patients upcoming: donations requested to support Dr. Michelakis’ cancer research
So far, no human beings have gone through clinical trials using DCA as a cancer treatment. Rising to the challenge of an endeavour not supported by the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Michelakis and his University of Alberta’s DCA Research Team are working at accelerated speed to allow taking the drug from the laboratory (in vivo and in vitro) to the next phase of research, the clinical trial. They are hopeful to be able to publish results regarding safety and efficacy of DCA treatment on cancer patients late this year.
Addendum by Healing Cancer Naturally
Personally, I don’t advocate animal experiments for a number of important reasons. I am including the above pertinent research however since it has been done in any case and since currently, no doctor who wants to gain official approval for a new method of his invention can get around doing them. While test results occasionally ARE transferrable to human beings, more generally speaking, animal experiments could justifiably be called "as useless and dangerous for humans as cruel to animals" (e.g. thalidomide was tested safe on rats while penicillin would have never been allowed for human consumption had it initially been tested on guinea pigs or hamsters, since it kills those species!). More
Also see Healing Cancer Naturally's complete section exposing Cancer Research, Toxicity Testing & Animal Experimentation: an Unholy Union?.