Cancerfighter’s Weblog

Alternative cancer therapies and ideas

DCA could be dangerous

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on May 1, 2008


Message of Domingo Richardo warning of potential danger of DCA
http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid

Potential cancer applications

Cancer cells generally use glycolysis
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Glycolysis> rather than oxidation
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Oxidation> for energy (the Warburg effect
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Warburg_effect>), as a result of hypoxia
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Ischemia> in tumors
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Tumor> and damaged mitochondria. ^[8]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 2> The body
often kills damaged cells by apoptosis
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Apoptosis>, a mechanism of
self-destruction that involves mitochondria, but this mechanism fails in
cancer <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Cancer> cells.

A study published in January 2007 by researchers at the University of
Alberta <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ University_ of_Alberta>,^[9]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 3> testing DCA
on /in vitro <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ In_vitro>/ cancer cell lines
and a rat model, found that DCA restored mitochondrial function, thus
restoring apoptosis, killing cancer cells /in vitro/, and shrinking the
tumors in the rats.^[10]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- bonnet2007>

These results received extensive media attention, beginning with an
article in /New Scientist <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ New_Scientist>/
entitled “Cheap, Safe Drug Kills Most Cancers”.^[11]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- newscientist>
Subsequently, the American Cancer Society
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ American_ Cancer_Society> and other medical
organizations have received a large volume of public interest and
questions regarding DCA.^[12]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- abcnews> Reports
have since pointed out that although the study results are promising, no
clinical trials in humans with cancer have yet been conducted,
emphasizing the need for caution in interpreting the preliminary
results.^[12]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- abcnews> ^[13]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- nowonderdrug> No
data from clinical trials <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Clinical_ trial>
is available yet.

The New Scientist later editorialized, “The drug may yet live up to its
promise as an anti-cancer agent – clinical trials are expected to start
soon. It may even spawn an entirely new class of anti-cancer drugs. For
now, however, it remains experimental, never yet properly tested in a
person with cancer. People who self-administer the drug are taking a
very long shot and, unlikely as it may sound, could even make their
health worse.”^[14]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 4>

The historical likelihood that a promising agent in pre-clinical (i.e.,
cell-line killing) experiments will become an effective human cancer
drug is 5%,^[/citation needed/]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Wikipedia: Citing_sources> and the
likelihood of an FDA approval for any given drug entering Phase I
testing is reportedly 8-11%.^[15]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 5> ^[16]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 6> Arguably, DCA
may never need additional Phase 1 testing (e.g. for dosages and their
safety, not for the efficacy of the drug), if the results from previous
studies, which tested dosages for toxicity in patients with metabolic
disorders, are acceptable to the FDA or equivalent organizations in
other countries. As of April 2007, DCA has passed phase 1 trials and can
enter directly phase 2 trials in patients with cancer.

DCA is a non-patentable compound. Concerns have therefore been raised
that without pharmaceutical industry
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Pharmaceutical_ industry> interest, trials
of DCA may not be funded.^[12]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- abcnews> ^[11]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- newscientist>
^[13]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- nowonderdrug>
^[17] <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- express>
However, other sources of funding exist; previous studies of DCA have
been funded by government organizations such as the National Institutes
of Health <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ National_ Institutes_ of_Health>,
the Food and Drug Administration
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Food_and_ Drug_Administrat ion>, the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Canadian_ Institutes_ of_Health_ Research>
and by private charities (e.g. the Muscular Dystrophy Association
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Muscular_ Dystrophy_ Association>).

Adverse effects

Reports in the lay press after the 2007 University of Alberta
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ University_ of_Alberta> announcement claim
that dichloroacetate “has actually been used safely in humans for
decades”,^[18]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- DCA_Cancer_ 2>
but the limited scholarly literature suggests side effects of pain,
numbness and gait <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Gait_%28human% 29>
disturbances in some patients.^[18]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- DCA_Cancer_ 2> A
clinical trial where DCA was given to patients of MELAS
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ MELAS> (a form of genetically inherited
lactic acidosis <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Lactic_acidosis>) at 25
mg/kg/day was ended prematurely due to excessive peripheral nerve
toxicity.^[19]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 7>
Dichloroacetate can also have anxiolytic
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Anxiolytic> or sedative
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Sedation> effects.^[20]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 8>

Animal studies suggest that the neuropathy
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Neuropathy> and neurotoxicity
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Neurotoxicity> during chronic
dichloroacetate treatment may be partly due to depletion of thiamine
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Thiamine>, and thiamine supplementation in
rats reduced these effects.^[21]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 9> However, more
recent studies in humans suggest that peripheral neuropathy is a common
side effect during chronic DCA treatment, even with coadministration of
oral thiamine.^[22]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 10> ^[23]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 11> An
additional study reported that 50 mg/kg/day DCA treatment resulted in
unsteady gait and lethargy in two patients, with symptoms occurring
after one month for one patient and two months for the second. Gait
disturbance and consciousness were recovered with cessation of DCA,
however sensory nerve <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Sensory_nerve>
action potentials <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Action_potential> did
not recover in one month.^[24]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 12>

[edit
<http://en.wikipedia .org/w/index. php?title= Dichloroacetic_ acid&action= edit&section= 6>]
Self-medication

Doctors warned of potential problems if people attempt to try DCA
outside a controlled clinical trial
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Clinical_ trial>. “If it starts going
badly, who is following you before it gets out of control? By the time
you realize your liver is failing, you’re in big trouble,” said Laura
Shanner, Associate professor of health ethics at the University of
Alberta.^[25] <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 13>

The most prominent web site promoting self-medication with DCA is
thedcasite.com <http://thedcasite. com>, according to the New
Scientist.^[ 26]
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note- 14> The site was
founded by Jim Tassano, who operates a pest-control company in Sonora,
California, and also founded another site, which offers to sell DCA for
treatment of cancer “in animals.” Because DCA has not been approved for
human use, it is illegal for a web site to sell it for human or animal
consumption in the US, said special agent Phil Walsky of the US Food and
Drug Administration’ s Office of Criminal Investigations, which is
investigating the two sites. DCA has never been approved for veterinary
use either. Sigma-Aldrich <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Sigma-Aldrich>
recently restricted sales of DCA. However, DCA is a widely used
laboratory chemical that can be ordered from thousands of companies.

Studies of the trichloroethylene
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Trichloroethylen e> (TCE) metabolites
dichloroacetic acid (DCA), trichloroacetic acid
<http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Trichloroacetic_ acid> (TCA) , and chloral
hydrate <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Chloral_hydrate> suggest that both
DCA and TCA are involved in TCE-induced liver tumorigenesis and that
many DCA effects are consistent with conditions that increase the risk
of liver cancer <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Liver_cancer> in humans.
^[27] <http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Dichloroacetic_ acid#_note->

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