New coverage of DCA and cancer cell energy metabolism

Apologies for the short post but I’m fighting off what I think is becoming a migraine. However, I just wanted to put up two links to a topic that I covered a fair bit at my old blog home: targeting the aerobic glycolysis pathway of tumor cells, the so-called Warburg effect.

An article in today’s New York Times by Andrew Pollack, “Fuel Lines of Tumors are a New Target,” gives a nice overview of the state of the science in this area, although the article’s title is way off-base as this work has been going on for decades (I realize that writers usually have no control over the titles given to their work). In addition to discussing approaches by drug companies, Pollack cites the work of Chi Dang at Johns Hopkins, Michael Pollack at McGill (no relation, I assume), and Evangelos Michelakis at Alberta.

Michelakis may ring a bell to you because his team has popularized the study of the small molecule, dichloroacetate (DCA), in experimental cancer therapy. Promising animal studies gave rise to a rash of internet marketers of the easy-to-make chemical even before clinical trials were initiated. Michelakis recently published some very limited but promising clinical results but DCA is far from being a cancer treatment. For example, an in vitro and animal study published this month in Cancer Letters revealed that some types of human colon carcinoma cells are actually protected by DCA when grown under anoxic conditions or as xenografts in mice (h/t Scott Gavura). This study highlights the need to fully understand the mechanisms of action of an agent before it goes into clinical trials.

Academic investigators and companies have been looking to target the aberrant energy metabolism of tumors for some time. One interesting drug is L-asparaginase, an enzyme designed to hydrolyze asparagine, an amino acid thought to be preferentially required by some types of leukemia. Even earlier was the alkylating agent, phenylalanine mustard or melphalan, developed to exploit the increased requirement for phenylalanine by some tumor cells (it gets taken up by the valine transporter instead).

Targeting the Warburg effect is promising because it could have greater impact on more than just one type of cancer. However, most drugs to date require extremely high concentrations that are difficult to achieve for sustained periods in people. Nevertheless, it remains an active area of investigation. Pollack’s article attests to that continuing interest, but it closes with a caution from Michelakis about DCA:

“We have only assumptions and theoretical excitement,” Dr. Michelakis said. Still, he added, “there’s no question that this is a new direction that is logical and very appealing.”

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15 Responses to New coverage of DCA and cancer cell energy metabolism

  1. mangrist says:

    I wondered what became of DCA. Is there any human trial data yet?

  2. Rob says:

    I think you mean hypoxia not anoxia. The researcher, Brenda Coomber, is interested in areas of hypoxia in tumors. And if you are in an area of hypoxia you probably are not going to see a lot of DCA reaching that site either so maybe DCA will not be promoting all that much cancer growth there. She did see some cancer cell lines being killed. I do believe that DCA will cause cancer to grow in hypoxic areas the question is how much DCA will reach a site where oxygen also has trouble navigating to.

    I am an example of an in vivo experiment with DCA. I was originally diagnosed with colon cancer in 10/2006 and with metastatic colon cancer in 4/2009 though we all know I had MCC the day I left the hospital in 2006. I have been using DCA and NOTHING ELSE, not other chemo, for my four tumors since 5/2009 and I feel fine and have no symptoms today.

    Why my main aggressive Hylar tumor (4.8 cm) grew from nothing to that size in four months and then decided to regress to 3.1 cm over the next three months (5/21/2009 till 9/03/2009) may be a mystery to some but I credit DCA. That all my tumors stayed the same for the next 12 months I also credit DCA . In the last three months I did not take DCA for six weeks or more and one of my tumors grew from 2.5 cm to 3.1 cm.

    At 19+ months and still feeling fine with no symptoms I may be an anomaly but it is my anomaly and I think DCA works for colon cancer, at least in my case. Maybe I am just lucky and have the right cell lines or maybe my cancer is a slow growing one that is aggressive one minute, regressive the next and just placid for months on end.

    Who knows?

  3. Robert Smith says:

    Good to hear of your result with DCA. Metformin would also lower blood glucose levels, offering yet another avenue of attack against cancers energy supply. Metformin has been show to act against mTOR also, as does Ribavirin and Rapamycin. Vitamin D at about 8000 I.U. would probably avoid most cancers for most people, per many published statistical studies.

    DCA was developed to treat lactic acidosis in newborns, Metformin can cause lactic acidosis in about 2% of the millions who take it. It’s possible that using DCA and Metformin could cause harm, but why haven’t we sacrificed a few dozen rats to find out, or even just some tissue cultures. Perhaps because the patents have run out on both compounds, and so nobody will spend 100 million for the preclinical and clinical trials,, because as soon as they do, any company can continue to sell them for $1 a day, instead of the $5000 or so per month that the drug companies make now on treatments that often don’t work at all, and when they do, they leave the patient mentally and physically a wreck, and actually most of the drugs used today are carcinogens.

    prime 3 end at yahoo dot com

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  5. Nicos Leon says:

    Pharmaceutical companies are for profit organizations after all and the only thing that they are interested in is to make profits. That is what every wisely managed company does, isn’t it? It would by stupid for them to spend money funding any DCA clinical trial. If the result is that DCA is indeed curing cancer, that will destroy their existing very lucrative markets with chemo drugs. Their goal is to make money and not loose money.

    On the other hand I don’t understand why the insurance companies don’t spend that money. If DCA is proved to cure cancer, they would save an enormous amount of money they spend today. Unless if they know something that we don’t know.

    Any body has an explanation for that?

  6. Richard says:

    DCA stands for dichloroacetate; if you have dichloroacetic acid, you have a liquid that is very corrosive. Do NOT take it orally or put it on an external (skin or oral) cancer. You can make dichloroacetate from dichloroacetic acid.
    First, dilute the dichloroacetic acid in water; use no more than 10% solution of acid in water. Then add sodium bicarbonate in small amounts. You will see lots of bubbles and foam because of carbon dioxide being released when the acid hits the bicarbonate. Keep adding bicarbonate until no more bubbles form. Now you have a solution of sodium dichloroacetate. Figure out how much you want to take orally or the strength you want to use externally. Check your calculations!
    Note: any doctor will tell you to go ahead and die of cancer rather than use DCA; I am sure that is the responsible thing to do. If you don’t want to be a good citizen and die passively, you should at least use it in the proper form so as not to kill yourself immediately. Some folks feel better following the rules and dying like good citizens. Others feel better at least trying something forbidden, even if it doesn’t do a lot of good. IMO, it takes all kinds. If you want the plumbing fixed you want a man of action (or a butch lesbian). If you want your interiors decorated, probably not. Be aware the US government and the FDA do NOT agree that you own your body. No. You are their human cattle. Sounds nasty but it’s reality.

  7. Tony says:

    Hello Rob, my wife has breast cancer and she has been taken DCA since about September 2010 but unfortunately her tumors have gotten bigger. She refuses to do surgery, chemo & radiation and she is extremely hesitant to do tamoxifen. She was prescribed 500 mg of DCA to be taken three times a day in three week cycles with two weeks on and one week off. Can you let me know what you where prescribed and if you are taking other supplements and or doing anything else that might help.

    I’m glad the DCA is working for you and I hope that her next MRI will show a reduction in tumor size for her as well.



  8. Tony says:

    What’s the difference in the process you just described for making DCA and the process for pharmaceutical grade DCA and is the making of DCA the way you described it safe to take, I ask because my wife is taking DCA and it is extremely expensive so if we could find a way to get it cheaper but not sacrifice quality that would be great.



  9. Cat says:

    Tony, I am not a doctor but definitly make sure your wife is getting to all her appointments on time. Also, make sure she is taking a multivitamin daily esp Vit D3 in combo with Calcium and Magnesium, B-Complex, VitC is critical and you can’t overdose on it because its water soluable, and drinking bunches and bunches of water. I can’t stress drinking enough water!! This has pulled me thru many sicknesses. Also, coconut water is said to have the exact electrolye balance our blood has and other body fluids so I would check with the doctor on this one. Another nice peice of info I can give you is that you should probably buy Ezekiel blend and make bread at home. Studies have shown this exact bread blend mentioned in the Bible has all the essential protiens we need to make up all the amino acids the body requires with all the essential nutrients as well, the only things lacking was water and VitD3 (which they got from the sun & of course Our Father provided the water) Something I learned years ago is that the immune system is strengthening itself between 10pm-2am so make sure its nice and dark in the bedroom and don’t stay up making a bunch of noise in the house. Seritonin and melatonin go hand in hand and can boost the immune system. I will be praying for you two, sorry to hear this news, hopefully I’ve helped you in your search for information a bit, and take care of yourself as well.

  10. John says:

    Where did your wife find a doctor who would prescribe DCA?

  11. jeff says:

    Hi Rob,

    My first hope is that you continue to improve and beat your cancer. Secondly, are you able to tell me where you are getting the DCA treatments and in what form? My wife has stage 4 lung cancer that has just moved to her brain and spine. Her cancer has been resistant to radiation, chemo (including platinum-based chemo) and Avastin. Honestly, we need some other options.

    Thank you for sharing.


  12. Gary says:

    I have found modern wheat to be destructive in whatever form because it has been genetically altered or modified to the tune of 44 chromosomes verses that from the wheat (einkorn) from the Bible, which had only 14. I believe that the use of two amino acids will help, they are L-carnitine and L-arginine. 500mg daily. I used this in addition to using no wheat, switching to all alkaline fruits and vegetables, along with lots of green tea, honey, and cinnamon, along with DCA. It killed my lung cancer. in a short period of time Best wishes, and my prayers are with you.

  13. mary says:

    where did you get the dca and how did you know the right dosage???

  14. Hello my friend! I want to say that this article is awesome, nice written and include approximately all important infos. I’d like to see more posts like this.

  15. jolene says:

    what doses were you taking that were effective . did you also take vit b?