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Why Wouldn't Drug Companies be
Interested in this Likely Cancer Cure?

By repairing the damage that cancer cells cause to mitochondria, the components of cells that convert food into energy, it seems that a small molecule known as DCA (dichloroacetate) may realistically offer hope of a cancer cure.

"DCA attacks a fundamental and unique property of cancer. It puts the mitochondria back in the normal condition, and because the mitochondria can control cell death, that also comes back into the picture," says Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the University of Alberta department of medicine, who is a key part of the team of researchers who made the finding.

dca cancer cure

In lab tests, DCA was able to shrink tumors in rats and kill human lung, breast and brain cancer cells.

It was previously thought that damage to mitochondria in cancer cells was permanent, and because mitochondria are also responsible for causing abnormal cells to self-destruct, the cancer cells were allowed to outlive other cells and become a majority.

"Cancer cells actively suppress their mitochondria, which alters their metabolism, and this appears to offer cancer cells a significant advantage in growth compared to normal cells, as well as protection from many standard chemotherapies," said Michelakis.

The groundbreaking study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, found, however, that mitochondrial damage is not permanent. DCA was able to repair the cancer cells' mitochondria, which in turn caused the abnormal cells to die.

DCA May Work on a Variety of Cancers and is Non-Toxic

The researchers believe DCA may treat many forms of cancer because all of them suppress mitochondrial functions. In the study, DCA was able to kill human lung, breast and brain cancer cells that had been cultured in a lab without affecting normal cells. Meanwhile, tumors in rats that had been infected with human cancer cells shrank significantly when the rats were fed DCA-containing water for several weeks.

dca cancer cure

Because DCA cannot be patented, and therefore won't produce a profit, drug companies have little interest in funding further research.

Further, because DCA is so small, it is easily absorbed by the body. Researchers say that it could even reach areas of the body that other drugs cannot, such as the brain.

DCA is also relatively non-toxic. It has been used to treat patients with mitochondrial diseases for more than three decades, with minimal side effects reported.

DCA is "Dirt Cheap" to Produce

No less exciting than the fact that DCA seems so promising in fighting cancer is that the compound is incredibly cheap to produce.

While this ultimately is a good thing, it's also the reason why pharmaceutical companies have very little interest in funding further DCA research.

DCA is currently widely available at chemistry stores, in both liquid and powder form. It's not patented, it's not owned by any drug company, and it's not likely to generate a huge profit.

While the next step in the process is to run clinical trials of DCA in people with cancer, this "will depend on funding," Michelakis said.

Since DCA cannot be patented and drug companies don't make money on non-patented treatments, Michelakis adds, "industry is not particularly interested."

Still, funding can come from other sources beyond pharmaceutical companies, including charities, universities and governments, and Michelakis is hopeful.

"We hope we can attract the interest of universities here in Canada and in the United States," he says.

If you would like to know more about the University of Alberta's efforts to test DCA in people with cancer, or if would like to make a donation to further their studies, you can check out their DCA Research Information Web Site.

Recommended Reading

How "Extremophiles" in Toxic Waste Sites May Hold the Cure to Cancer

Shark Cartilage: The Myths and Possible Truths of its Health Benefits


Cancer Cell, Vol 11, 37-51, January 2007 January 17, 2007

CTV News January 16, 2007

University of Alberta, Department of Medicine

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