Thursday, May 13, 2010

Generic drug a potential treatment for glioblastoma?

DCA research on brain cancer, EurekAlert, May 12, 2010. [FriendFeed entry]. Excerpt: "... the orphan generic drug Dichloroacetate (DCA) may hold promise as potential therapy for ... a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma". Another excerpt:
By extracting glioblastomas from 49 patients over a period of 2 years and studying them within minutes of removal in the operating room, the team showed that tumors respond to DCA by changing their metabolism. Then, the team treated 5 patients with advanced glioblastoma and secured tumor tissues before and after the DCA therapy. By comparing the two, the team showed that DCA works in these tumors exactly as was predicted by test tube experiments. This is very important because often the results in non-human models tested in the lab do not agree with the results in patients. In addition, the team showed that DCA has anti-cancer effects by altering the metabolism of glioblastoma cancer stem cells, the cells thought responsible for the recurrences of cancer.
No conclusions can be made on whether the drug is safe or effective in patients with this form of brain cancer, due to the limited number of patients tested by the study's leads Drs Michelakis and Petruk. Researchers emphasize that use of DCA by patients or physicians, supplied from for-profit sources or without close clinical observation by experienced medical teams in the setting of research trials, is not only inappropriate but may also be dangerous. ...
See also: Generic drug may be potential treatment for deadly brain cancer: U of A medical study by Noreen Remtulla and Julia Necheff, ExpressNews, University of Alberta, May 12, 2010.

And: Potential brain-cancer drug shows promise, CBC News, May 12, 2010. [CBC video].

And: Cancer drug trial raises hopes by Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal, May 13, 2010.

These news reports are about the publication: Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloroacetate by Evangelos D Michelakis and 12 co-authors, including Kenneth C Petruk, Sci Transl Med 2010(May 12); 2(31): 31ra34.

See also an editorial: Targeting Cell Metabolism in Cancer Patients by Matthew G Vander Heiden, Sci Transl Med 2010(May 12); 2(31) :31ed1. From the TOC: "Dichloroacetate can safely modify glucose metabolism in aggressive brain tumors when administered to patients". Last sentence of the editorial: "Time will tell whether this strategy constitutes an effective cancer therapy".

Comments: After an initial research publication in January 2007 [PubMed citation], DCA attracted much attention. See, for example, the Wikipedia entry for Dichloroacetic acid. And, Cancer society warns of untested drug, CBC News, March 22, 2007.

The Official University of Alberta DCA Website provides FAQs about DCA. It includes, in the News & Updates section, DCA Research Team publishes results of Clinical Trials (dated May 12, 2010) and an earlier Letter from Dr. Evangelos Michelakis (dated October 2008).


  1. For an update about DCA, see: Cool science, but is it news? by Kelly Crowe, CBC News: Health, May 28, 2012. See also the interesting comment about this article, by FlyingSnow, that begins: "Wait a minute...".