Sodium Dichloroacetate, the sodium salt of dichloroacetate, or DCA is a chemical compound that has shown some potential in cancer treatment, according to researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada.
The American National Cancer Institute describes it as follows: The sodium salt of dichloroacetic acid with potential antineoplastic activity. The dichloroacetate ion inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, resulting in the inhibition of glycolysis and a decrease in lactate production. This agent may stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells by restoring normal mitochondrial-induced apoptotic signaling.
At present time the NCI lists three clinical trials using DCA: One examines DCA on its own with patients with solid tumours, one is with patients with head and neck cancers, and the third is in conjunction with cisplatin and radiotherapy for head and neck cancers.
Background - Cellular oxygen
As usual in cancer, the precise nature of action is not 100 per cent clear. In 1931 Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize for explaining that the normal energy production mechanism of a healthy cell, which involves burning carbohydrate in the presence of oxygen, was lost in a cancer cell. He proposed that the power stations, or mitochondria, lost control of the energy production system as levels of oxygen decreased in the cell, and instead a very inefficient system of energy production, called glycolysis, started to occur outside the mitochondria and inside the cell, burning glucose in the absence of oxygen. The main waste product of this process is a form of lactic acid.
This decline in oxygen inside the cell was considered by Warburg to be the primary cause of cancer. Warburg also noted that even when cellular oxygen levels started to increase, it did not follow that the mitochondria kicked back into action and the glycolysis ceased. This he called the Warburg effect: the ability of cancer cells to continue with glycolysis even as oxygen levels rose.
A decade or more later, Hans Krebs showed the complex 26 step system that mitochondria normally used to produce cellular power. He concluded that glycolysis resulted because of damage to the mitochondria themselves. Hence, even when oxygen levels were increased, they still would not work.
Background - Glucose, the cancer promoter
A further point of interest is that the lactic acid waste is then detoxified by the liver. The end product of this detoxification is glucose, which proceeds back round the body to feed the cancer cells.
There have been a number of important studies in the last 5 years that have shown conclusively that glucose is the favourite food of a cancer cell and that people with high blood glucose levels survive less that those with lowered levels. This is especially true of brain cancer, for example.
Readers should read an article on Hydrazine Sulphate by clicking this link
. This inexpensive compound was believed by an American John Gold to break this glycolysis lactic acid glucose cycle. There are several Russian Clinical Trials on Hydrazine sulphate all showing increased survival times, several relating to brain tumours. However, the work is the subject of much criticism and debate.
We have also noted in the past with horror that NHS booklets on Diet and Chemotherapy encourage the use of milky, sugary food, cheeseburgers and sticky buns, cakes and biscuits all ladened with cows´ dairy and glucose!
DCA and mitochondria
In cancer cells, the mitochondria have, in effect, shut down. Normal metabolism is not the only factor that shuts down with them. In a healthy cell, when the mitochondria spot that something is going wrong in the cell, they initiate the suicide of the cell, which in biochemical terms is called apoptosis.
This cannot happen with cancer cells; the mitochondria are shut down and so cancer cells are almost immortal. This effect extends to attacks by chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy, and explains why these treatments can be ineffective, whilst causing damage to healthy cells.
Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the University of Alberta Department of Medicine, has shown that dichloroacetate can turn the mitochondria of cancer cells back on, allowing them to spot the faults in the cell and commit suicide.
Michelakis and his team discovered in their research that DCA is very effective in reactivating the mitochondria of cancer cells. Michelakis reports that The mitochondria are so sensitive to DCA that just 5 minutes of exposure reactivates them for 48 hours.
Research to date has indicated that DCA can cause regression in several cancers, including breast, lung, and brain tumours.
In one study with 5 people all having glioblastoma brain cancer, Michelakis gave the DCA along with standard radiotherapy, surgery and temozolomide and 4 of the 5 patients were alive 18 months later. When the researchers looked at the tumour samples they found that the mitochondria had indeed been turned back on.
In another study with 49 glioblastoma patients, they confirmed that DCA could turn mitochondria back on, when looking at tumour samples.
DCA is a colourless, odourless, inexpensive compound. It is an off patent, approved drug.
Hitherto, according to the American Cancer Society, the only medical use is for removing warts and other skin growths. Researchers have also tested it on humans for decreasing lactic acidosis (lactic acid buildup), hypertension and metabolic diseases.
There are some side effects like nerve reactions but apparently the side-effects stop as soon as treatment ceases.
In research it seems to be more effective if used in conjuction with thiamine (vitamin B1) and caffeinated tea! The addition of these two compounds into any treatment protocol seems to allow lower doses of DCA to be used. People should only take medical grade DCA, and should always consult with their Doctor first.
Clearly there is huge potential with DCA. We await the results of the Clinical Trials with interest.