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Canada Cures Cancer
May 13, 2011 9:57 AM   Subscribe

"Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the U of A Department of Medicine, has shown that dichloroacetate (DCA) causes regression in several cancers, including lung, breast, and brain tumors. " Between rumors that pharmaceutical companies have no interest in this discovery because it can't be patented and quacks jumping on the bandwagon to sell home made DCA to hopeful cancer patients for self medication, things are not exactly going the way Dr. Michelakis would have probably hoped.
posted by Hairy Lobster (33 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
crap... I meant to expand "U of A" in the quote to "University of Alberta".

My first FPP and it already contains at least one fail :(
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2011


Is anybody else saying that this DCA thing actually works? I've always considered people that falsely say they have a cure for cancer to be easily the worst assholes in the entire fucking universe.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:20 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You'd think someone would try patenting a "delivery method" or something along those lines and FUD any direct application.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:20 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "no interest in this discovery" link contains this gem:

In human bodies there is a natural cancer fighting human cell, the mitochondria, but they need to be triggered to be effective. Scientists used to think that these mitochondria cells were damaged and thus ineffective against cancer.

...Which makes me wonder about the whole premise, to be honest. I'm guessing there's something else going on here.
posted by supercres at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I doubt there is going to be "One thing" that can cure all cancers. But journalists and people are so interested in the idea of a "Miracle cure" that the seem lose their heads. I think we've been hearing things like this about various substances for years.
posted by delmoi at 10:23 AM on May 13, 2011


cranks gonna crank. I hope it doesn't prevent Dr Michelakis from continuing his research.
posted by GuyZero at 10:23 AM on May 13, 2011


Is anybody else saying that this DCA thing actually works? I've always considered people that falsely say they have a cure for cancer to be easily the worst assholes in the entire fucking universe.

Do consider RTFA, please.
posted by Mister_A at 10:25 AM on May 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was wondering about the mitochondria and cancer thing, turns out Springer has a book Mitochondria and Cancer. Only $150!
posted by delmoi at 10:25 AM on May 13, 2011


OF COURSE! IT WAS THE MITOCHONDRIA CELLS ALL ALONG!
Martha! Get me the NIH!
posted by The White Hat at 10:25 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do consider RTFA, please.

Yes, it contains the Dr's own university site talking about it, and the National Review of Medicine, that says it is "untested."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2011


The paper and linked articles are four years old. There's a clinical trial results paper from May 2010 which has some good results but is full of caveats and "DONT TRY THIS AT HOME BOYS AND GIRLS".

Clinical trials are fucking expensive and, in cancers, really risky because without demonstrated effectiveness people's health is being put in danger with tentative treatments.

I hope our government, which pays for cancer treatments, shovels some more money their way.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:28 AM on May 13, 2011


There was a lot of hubbub about this back in 2007 when it came out. The topic is the oncology research community's version of Obama's birth certificate - a conspiracy theory that won't die.

Orac, who writes the phenomenal science blog Respectful Insolence covered it well with this post.

There is a great deal of interest in developing cancer therapeutics that target glycolysis and the mechanisms underlying the Warberg Effect (the finding that cancer cells rely heavily on aerobic glycolysis. But nobody has put DCA into cancer patients yet (they have treated children with rare metabolic disorders). Until that happens, one can't make any claims as to its potential to cure one way or another.

If Michelakis or others are so insistant that it works, they should find a GMP source, file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA, and open a trial. It's entirely possible to do.
posted by scblackman at 10:30 AM on May 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Indeed. Even if a full study only disproves the effectiveness, then at least we have evidence to use against the cranks.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:32 AM on May 13, 2011


Thanks, seanmpuckett - I didn't know that he'd done a small pilot. This part is a little worrisome: "In the 5 patients tested, the drug took 3 months to reach blood levels high enough to alter the tumor's metabolism." Most high-grade glioma patients eligible for a Phase 1 clinical trial won't last 3 months for a drug to reach sufficient blood concentrations. Targeting metabolism with DCA is a good idea, and worth exploring. But that doesn't make DCA a good drug. They're two entirely different things.
posted by scblackman at 10:32 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK so paraphrasing scblackman here...

Michelakis Cures Cancer!!11!
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on May 13, 2011


Meanwhile Hemp oil cures cancer.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:40 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


UGH, total first FPP fail. Lesson learned: next time I won't post from work where I don't have enough time to thoroughly vet the articles and pay attention to details.

Didn't realize how old those articles were... thanks for pointing it out.

Mods, go ahead and delete

*crawls into corner and weeps*
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:43 AM on May 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Money changes everything.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on May 13, 2011


Meanwhile Hemp oil cures cancer.

Please don't even think about trying that shit here.

While cannabinoids are indeed a great source of possible therapeutic effect, in dealing with pain management, and possibly even causing cancer cell death (http://www.jci.org/articles/view/37948), none of your links lead to peer-reviewed scientific studies, and even link towards questionable sites hocking hemp oil as radiation cures.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I hope we don't delete this post. Old as the cites are, I found the article and premise interesting. Plus googling "dca trials cancer" brings up further interesting results.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:36 AM on May 13, 2011


Meanwhile Hemp oil cures cancer.

Bullshit. Stinking, left-over wannabe-mystic fantasy bullshit.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


OF COURSE! IT WAS THE MITOCHONDRIA CELLS ALL ALONG!

Yeah, wake up the mitochondria. That is a swell idea....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2011


Dang, I was instantly thinking that the University of Alabama had something big. We're still stuck with football and side-notes. Oh wait, in the cancer cure vs. football arena UA prospects/alums/fans would still focus on football.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:16 PM on May 13, 2011


"In human bodies there is a natural cancer fighting human cell, the mitochondria, but they need to be triggered to be effective. Scientists used to think that these mitochondria cells were damaged and thus ineffective against cancer."

Mitochondria are not cells. They are organelles within cells, which act as the site of aerobic respiration. The author of the "interest in this discovery" article appears to be profoundly confused.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 12:31 PM on May 13, 2011


In Nature, David Nichols described his reaction to discovering that people unassociated with him were selling compounds described in his papers as 'legal highs', without verifying their safety. Dr. Michelakis is in a somewhat similar situation.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2011


"Meanwhile Hemp oil cures cancer."

not cancer, no....
posted by marienbad at 12:58 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitochondria are not cells.

They might be old-ass prokaryotes.
posted by Jpfed at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2011


The problem, as I understand it, is primarily inside the cancer-affected mitochondria -- the farandolae are under attack by Echthroi and have lost their ability to kythe with cherubim.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:13 PM on May 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'd like to thank people in this thread. This started showing up with some friends of mine, because apparently it hit the news (again?) today. I had this thread to get the counter-information from about the "OMG Cancer Cure No One Looks At! ZOMG" attitude some people had.
posted by mephron at 5:35 PM on May 13, 2011


Seconding what mephron said - threads like this are useful precisely for this sort of thing. Sort of like a mythbuster tag kind of thread discussing a dubious article that is making its rounds in the social newsfeeds, where the more knowledgable members can put throw some words and links in and help us learn more about the subject.

No shame in making this post Hairy Lobster =p
posted by xdvesper at 7:02 PM on May 13, 2011


One angle I haven't seen covered on this, is the marketing of DCA or related compounds as, "Pangamic Acid," advanced as a remedy for cancer quite some time ago.

Pangamic acid ( non-vitamin B15 ) "This non-vitamin, like laetrile, was discovered by E. T. Krebs in the 1940's. Commercial preparations appear to contain either diisopropylamine dichloroacetate or dimethyl glycine both of which have some pharmacologic effect. These compounds are mild stimulants."

Mutagenicity of diisopropylamine dichloroacetate, the "active constituent" of vitamin B15 (pangamic acid).

In these (non-cancer) studies, the proliferative component of DIPA was identified as DCA:
Effects of diisopropylamine dichloroacetate on proliferation and differentiation of normal human keratinocytes in vitro.

posted by 0rison at 11:08 PM on May 13, 2011


And in other reporting:
Fungi are anti-cancer
posted by rough ashlar at 2:04 PM on May 14, 2011


And definitive proof that this who thing is bullshit: it was on a FOX News site today.
posted by scblackman at 4:32 PM on May 18, 2011


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