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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Promising New Cancer Drug

In Edmonton, Canada, the first human trial which will last 18 months, for a possible new cancer drug called dichloroacetate, or DCA , has been approved by Health Canada to be used to treat “an advanced form of an aggressive brain cancer.”

Significant shrinkage of tumors occurred in rat trials. This drug is being raced to human trial far beyond the usual time it takes to get there. However, because the drug is cheap and cannot be patented, the doctors are receiving no financial aid from the pharmaceutical companies. This is sad. However, grants and donations are financing this venture to the tune of $800,000 so far. This lack of funding from the pharmaceutical companies is what makes this frenzy to take DCA to Phase 2 (skipping Phase 1) human trial so quickly all the more remarkable. It seems to be a very promising solution to cancer.

A tremendous interest in the DCA drug trial has been shown and they’ve had to turn away people with other cancers, as Health Canada is at this moment only supporting the human trial of people with glioblastomas. Reportedly some desperate folks are self-medicating with DCA. The Canadian Cancer Society warns against this practice as it is not yet known what the results in humans will be.

“The appeal of DCA lies in its ability to target cancer cells while leaving other cells intact, eliminating severe side-effects of conventional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation.

DCA cuts tumours off from glucose, said Kenn Petruck, the head of neurosciences with Capital Health and a co-investigator on the clinical trial. "Unlike normal cells, tumours are addicted to glucose as their foodstuff," he said.

Without this food, they turn to another pathway, which triggers the cells to die off.”

A Phase 1 trial for other types of cancer could be happening in the near future, pending approval from Health Canada.

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