Does the Drug D.C.A. Being Tested at the University of Alberta Have Promise for Cancer Treatment?

Question by Kevin7: does the drug D.C.A. being tested at the University of Alberta have promise for cancer treatment?

Best answer:

Answer by Tarkarri
It showed a lot of promise in mice.
They have run into some unexpected neurological problems in human trials.
We will have to wait and see.

Answer by Ted H
It seems so, although there are drawbacks.

The mechanism by which DCA works in mice is remarkably simple: It killed most types of cancer cells by disrupting the way they metabolize sugar, causing them to self-destruct without adversely affecting normal tissues. Following the animal trials, Michelakis and his colleagues did tests of DCA on human cancer cells in a Petri dish, then conducted human clinical trials using $ 1.5 million in privately raised funds. His encouraging results — DCA treatment appeared to extend the lives of four of the five study participants — were published last year in Science Translational Medicine. The preliminary work in rodents, cell cultures, and small trials on humans points to DCA as being a powerful cancer treatment. That doesn’t mean it’s the long-awaited cure — many other compounds have seemed similarly promising in the early stages of research without later living up to that promise — but nonetheless, Michelakis believes larger human trials on DCA are warranted.

“This site gives the results of the Michelakis research, a look at the possible side effects of DCA and the prospects of it being used by YOU. We have posted the best summaries we can reach on dosages, side effect concerns and additional measures to take to help you fight cancer. Questions are answered and a chat room is provided.”

Despite the dearth of clinical tests, one family practitioner, Akbar Khan of Medicor Cancer Centre in Toronto, prescribes off-label DCA to his cancer patients. (He says this can be done in Canada because DCA is already approved there for treating certain metabolism disorders. Michelakis, however, said he does not think Khan should be prescribing the drug before it is officially approved for cancer use.)

“We are seeing about 60 to 70 percent of patients who have failed standard treatments respond favorably to DCA,” Khan told Life’s Little Mysteries. Khan’s group just published its first peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. “It’s a case report of a patient with a rare form of cancer who had tried other treatments that weren’t working, so he came to us for DCA. It was effective, and actually it’s quite a dramatic result. He had multiple tumors, including a particularly troubling one in his leg. DCA stabilized the tumor and significant reduced his pain.

Some animal studies show that DCA can itself cause liver cancer. These studies used doses which are over 1000 times higher than what would be prescribed for cancer treatment. We think that DCA can have 2 main categories of side effects:
1. Neurological:
Nerve injury in the hands and feet (“peripheral neuropathy”). Neuropathy typically takes several weeks to months to develop, and is reversible if it is caught early. In the existing literature, neuropathy from DCA appears to be age-related….Sedation, confusion, hallucinations, memory problems, hand tremors. These side effects appear to be dose-dependent, and age-dependent which is consistent with existing human research on DCA that we have reviewed.
2. Gastrointestinal:
Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, indigestion. These side effects may occur with DCA, and we routinely prescribe a proton pump inhibitor (e.g. pantoprazole) to prevent them.
3. Other Side Effects:
Some patients experience pain at the sites of their tumour(s) within the first few days of starting DCA. This may be an indicator of the effectiveness of DCA.

Most side effects reported so far have been mild or moderate. Patients experiencing moderate side effects are usually taken off DCA as a precaution. Most side effects typically resolve within days after stopping DCA. Neuropathy can take weeks or months to improve. (original study)

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