University of Alberta Researcher Dr. Evangelos Michelakis has shown that DCA can shrink tumors in rats. But since there is no patent on this inexpensive drug, there is little interest from drug companies that stand to lose billions on their proprietary chemotherapy treatments.
Researchers at the University of Alberta have reported that a drug that has been used for decades in the treatment of rare disorders of metabolism, holds promise as a potential effective drug for the treatment of several forms of cancer. Dichloroacetate (DCA) appears to alter the metabolism of cancer cells, without affecting that of normal cells, leading to regression of cancers in test tubes and animals, without apparent toxicity.
These results are exciting and offer hope that similar success might follow its use on the treatment of patients with cancer. The work was published in a prestigious medical journal (Cancer Cell) and has already attracted the interest of media and patients around the world. The interest of the public focuses around two important questions:
1) What do these findings mean for real patients with cancer and how likely are that the tumors growing in patients will respond to the drug in a manner similar to the tumors growing in animals?
There are numerous examples in the history of Medicine of therapies or drugs that failed to show benefit in real patients despite promising effects in animals. The research team at the University of Alberta is optimistic because the tumors studied were actually human cancers growing into animals. In addition, DCA has already been used in real patients for decades and has shown a good safety profile (although the number of patients was relatively small and these were not cancer patients). However, one has to wait for properly performed clinical trials before any conclusions regarding the efficacy and safety of this drug can be drawn.
2) Since the drug is already used and no company owns a patent or its rights (meaning that the drug will not bring the huge profits that other patented drugs bring in pharmaceutical companies), who will fund the many millions of dollars required for multicenter, multinational clinical trials?
The research team at the University of Alberta has been working on this project for more than 2 years now. Early on, two of the investigators (Drs Michelakis and Archer) filed for a “use” patent. Although no patent could be filed for DCA itself, a patent could be claimed for its specific use in cancer. Instead of forming a company in order to pursue this privately, Drs Michelakis and Archer requested a partnership with their University. The University of Alberta sponsored the patent application, which became successful as a “provisional” use patent. However, despite trying for a year, the University failed to attract the interest of any investors or biotech companies for the development of the drug. This is likely the result of the fact that the “use” patents are generally considered to be “weaker” than standard patents and therefore they cannot guarantee profit. Eventually, the University considered this patent “high risk” and withdrew its sponsorship, returning the rights and the cost to support it back to the investigators. In theory, it is still possible that investors will still be interested to take over and sponsor the development of the drug. However, there is no question that for the completion of the large amount of the clinical research that will be required before DCA is proven to be effective and safe in humans with cancer, support from non-profit government organizations, like the CIHR or NIH, will be critical.
Either way, the performance of such trials requires time. The time required for the DCA trials will be shorter compared to brand new drugs that have never been tried in humans before. DCA has already passed phase one trials and can enter directly phase 2 trials in patients with cancer. In addition, at least for Canada, DCA has to be purified, sterilized and appropriately formulated before it can receive approval from Health Canada for oral use in humans. The agony of the public for their loved ones already suffering from advanced forms of cancer can be dramatic but the appropriate steps need to be followed.
To address such concerns, the University of Alberta and the Alberta Cancer Board have created a dedicated website (www.depmed.ualberta.ca/dca) in order inform physicians and patients regarding the commitment to initiate clinical trials in the near future and record the progress towards this goal. In addition, in order to address the large number of calls expressing interest to donate funds for this effort, this website will have a user-friendly mechanism to facilitate donations to the University for these efforts. It is important to say that, so far, there is an impressive number of people expressing their wish to contribute with donations; while there is no indication yet of interest from large companies or industries.
65 Responses to “DCA (Dichloroacetate) shrinks tumors in rats, humans”
Trudy Andres June 28th, 2010 at 10:02 AM
Is this drug not available already for other conditions, and could I not still obtain it through a prescription from my doctor, or would it work in pill form?
I don’t think clinical cancer treatment trials have been conducted with DCA in humans. While it may show promise in animals, you would be going out on a limb by attempting to use DCA to treat cancer in a human. You may be able to order some from a reputable health food supplier or scientific chemical company, but I can’t recommend one. I’m not trying to discourage you but can’t vouch for its effectiveness in humans. Please contact me if you get more info about it and I will post it.
I’ve always told myself that if I got cancer I would not do chemo or radiation, as these treatments come with serious risks of their own. I would use a combination treatment with Bloodroot and THC oil. Both are gaining acceptance as alternative cancer treatments in humans. You might want to investigate “Hoxsey” (contains bloodroot) for treating internal cancers. Bloodroot paste has been used traditionally for removing all kinds of skin growths. I’ve personally used bloodroot paste (from Alpha Omega Labs) to remove moles on my skin, and it does seem to destroy neoplastic or abnormal tissue while allowing normal tissue to survive.
There is a documentary on google video called “Run from the Cure” that follows several “terminal” cancer patients who claim to have been cured by ingesting THC oil. I recommend you watch this.
There is also a cancer clinic called “Lase Med Inc” has an interesting technique for light induced necrosis of tumors (basically injecting a tumor with dye and cooking it with blue light).
I’m not sure if you are asking specifically about cancer treatments, but I figured if not you, then someone else might benefit from this research I’ve done.
Best of luck to you.
Carlos Kreuzer January 8th, 2011 at 6:14 PM
I have a question,has dca been tested on colon cancer and in what for IV/pill.
this colon cancer in my wife started in the apendixe and was removed she was treated with
chemo but less than two years it has shown up in the ambilicus and pelves with now fluid in the stomach they now need to drain the fluid and start new round of chemo might not work.
will this work to slow this rate of growth.
and is their a nother version of dca wich we have access to. or can we get on a trial.
Carlos Victoria, BC
Carlos, I would research Bloodroot, THC oil, and Amygdalin, in addition to DCA. I don’t have any more info about DCA. The findings above are preliminary and I can’t say whether this research will pan out into an effective cancer treatment.
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