Thursday, May 26, 2011

DCA: A cure for cancer?

The molecular structure of DCA, Dichloroacetic Acid (CHCl2COOH), a potential drug to cure cancer. 
DCA, or Dichloroacetic Acid, has recently been in the news as a potential cancer cure.  The commonly used chemotherapy drugs kill rapidly dividing cancer cells by hindering cell division.  Thus DCA differs completely by targeting cancer cell metabolism.  Most cancer cells are anerobic, meaning they function without oxygen, while normal healthy cells within the body are aerobic, meaning they function with oxygen.  DCA shifts cancer metabolism from anerobic (without oxygen) to aerobic (with oxygen).  This means DCA restores mitochondria function of the cell where aerobic metabolism (respiration) takes place.  The mitochondria, sometimes known as "the powerhouse of the cell", is an organelle that uses oxygen and glucose sugar to produce energy for cellular function.  Once mitochondrial function is restored  the cell can go through apoptosis, or programmed cell death, and the cancer cell kills itself.

Source from Hubpages.  I'm not sure where this image came from originally. 
 Summary of how DCA ideally works:
-Most cancer cells function without oxygen while healthy cells function with oxygen.
-DCA shifts cancer cells away from functioning without oxygen towards using oxygen.
-Once cancer cells start using oxygen again the mitochondria portion of the cell will kill the cancer cell.
-DCA ideally restores normal function of cancer cells so they will kill themselves.  So in effect the body (or the cells) kill cancer, not the drug.

Currently there is a lot of propaganda and hype surrounding DCA as a cure for cancer and conflicts with drug companies.  I am sure this is true at least in part but I don't know enough information to speak on it.  I simply want to present a scientifically based explanation of DCA cancer treatment that the general public can understand without political or corporate stigmas.  To be sure though, DCA is a very promising drug but it is not a cure all drug.  Clinical testing has shown it effective in some situations and not in others.  Based on my experience with science it is extremely unlikely this will end all cancer as some people seem to be spouting on the internet. 

Most of this research is coming from the University of Alberta DCA research.  This is a great website that will give you scientifically based, down to earth, information on DCA cancer treatment.

And Wikipedia has a good review of Dichloroacetic acid (DCA)

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