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Possible new cancer cure from Canada

January 21st, 2007, 07:58 AM
I was on line on a computer/science website I subscribe to and found the following new article. This research comes from Canada, and sounds very promising. I think the actual drug may be over the counter, and those of you (possibly with afflicted pets...maybe more...) who are afflicted with the 'scourge' of cancer with your loved ones, etc., as I have been in the past, may find this interesting reading. And from Canada, no less!

Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers

* 11:58 17 January 2007
* From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
* Andy Coghlan

It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their “immortality”. The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.

It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar.

Until now it had been assumed that cancer cells used glycolysis because their mitochondria were irreparably damaged. However, Michelakis’s experiments prove this is not the case, because DCA reawakened the mitochondria in cancer cells. The cells then withered and died (Cancer Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2006.10.020).

Michelakis suggests that the switch to glycolysis as an energy source occurs when cells in the middle of an abnormal but benign lump don’t get enough oxygen for their mitochondria to work properly (see diagram). In order to survive, they switch off their mitochondria and start producing energy through glycolysis.

Crucially, though, mitochondria do another job in cells: they activate apoptosis, the process by which abnormal cells self-destruct. When cells switch mitochondria off, they become “immortal”, outliving other cells in the tumour and so becoming dominant. Once reawakened by DCA, mitochondria reactivate apoptosis and order the abnormal cells to die.

“The results are intriguing because they point to a critical role that mitochondria play:

they impart a unique trait to cancer cells that can be exploited for cancer therapy,” says Dario Altieri, director of the University of Massachusetts Cancer Center in Worcester.

The phenomenon might also explain how secondary cancers form. Glycolysis generates lactic acid, which can break down the collagen matrix holding cells together. This means abnormal cells can be released and float to other parts of the body, where they seed new tumours.

DCA can cause pain, numbness and gait disturbances in some patients, but this may be a price worth paying if it turns out to

be effective against all cancers. The next step is to run clinical trials of DCA in people with cancer. These may have to be funded by charities, universities and governments: pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to pay because they can’t make money on unpatented medicines. The pay-off is that if DCA does work, it will be easy to manufacture and dirt cheap.

Paul Clarke, a cancer cell biologist at the University of Dundee in the UK, says the findings challenge the current assumption that mutations, not metabolism, spark off cancers. “The question is: which comes first?” he says.

January 21st, 2007, 09:43 AM
that would be wonderful if it was a cure for all would have been nice if it had been discovered about a year earlier :sad: especially since some of us here have already lost loved ones from cancer - but still its wonderful news.

January 21st, 2007, 10:19 AM
Working on isolated cells is one thing--working on cells in vivo is a whole nuther thing... :shrug: Lots of things kills abnormal cells on petri dishes or in test tubes, but the delivery system ends up being the obstacle. :fingerscr that this promising discovery pans out!

January 21st, 2007, 11:16 AM
Yep... It's a nice idea, but when do you start using it? We all have cancer cells floating around. Do we kill them now or wait till they make us ill and it might be too late?

That's the worry about all the genome research. We'll all end up on a bajillion preventative pills for our entire life.

January 21st, 2007, 05:34 PM
Even it is does work, it takes years - maybe even a decade - before the clinical trials will prove anything (sigh). Rarely, certain drugs are shown to be so helpful in a trial that the FDA and in Canada, Health Canada will set up a panel to review it and possibly OK it but that too takes time. As a cancer researcher, I have seen studies like this come and go and I now - while always hopeful - know better than to be thrilled. We have come along way granted - just in my own lifetime and just in my field - hematological cancers - but we have so far to go. (If only in prevention as well!!) We are doing better in treatment but not that well in prevention which is where it all starts, mutation or metabolism.

It is also not simple if only because cancer is not just one disease. I sometimes wish that were the case but it is like fighting several hundred different illnesses that have the same type of process - for the most part (even there, some are viruses, most are not - cervical cancer for example now has an anti viral program approved for it). Even in hematology- they are not all the same. Aplastic anemia is not the same process as leukemia and lymphoma is not the same as Hodgkin's which is a kind of lymphoma. And as someone who had just gone thru chemotherapy, I certainly want and am working for a "cure" or at least better treatment - but it takes so much money, etc. etc.etc I won't go on - I am in a frustrated mood about all of this of late. (Chemo is very tiring and I took little time off and I find myself, even while it is finished now exhausted and wondering if I am accomplishing anything at all in my research. we have managed a lot but I guess I want some major breakthrough all the time, lol There are days I think I should just do treatment and not research and then I think, if not you, then who? We need more doctors and researchers and there are not enough people going into some of these fields of study.

Anyway - it is a hopeful study and usually of those kinds of announcements one in 100 may be still around 5 yrs from now so let's hope this is one of them!

January 21st, 2007, 06:01 PM
I know just recently a drug that is used in the United States to help "cure" bone caner has just been approved in Canada.

I have heard that the biologists and pharmaceutical companies don't want to find a cure for cancer or aids, since they will loose their jobs and major money. I think this is totally redicioulos since theirs so many other diseases in this world they can be working on.

I asked my friend who works in the oncology unit if this rumor could be possibly true? She almost ripped my head off when I asked her. She said "of course we want a cure for cancer!"

I asked my other friend who's a ER surgical nurse, the same question. She heard the same rumor and she believes it.

I like to be positive and not possibly think the rumor is true. I just wish the scientists would hurry up and find a cure for Cancer.

January 21st, 2007, 06:44 PM
lol the money will come from prevention instead of cures, but it'll still come if they find a cure for cancer..

Honestly, I had guest lectures from the leading diabetes researcher and a researcher for AIDS. The diabetes guy said he is confident in a cure within 10 years. The AIDS person said never. She said it just mutates too quickly, and realistically there will never be one. :sad:

January 22nd, 2007, 12:15 AM
I have to agree with the woman from AIDs - I doubt we will ever have a cure per se but certainly more ppl are living with it now, they just are not cured and may never be. Some actually compare it to diabetes in that way and diabetes - a very different kind of illness as you prob know - may well have a "cure" in my lifetime. At least diabetics can take insulin but ppl with HIV know they have to take a cocktail of drugs and never know exactly how it will affect them. Of course diabetics also face side effects of the disease (my grandmother had to inject insulin 3 x a day and while that is no picnic, if I had to choose, we at least feel better about a diagnosis of diabetes.)

As far as the cynical views of cancer researcher, I have been working on it all my life and I know not one single person who does not want a cure. Anyone who says that is well... I don't know, it's a bit of a bizarre comment to make - I do not mean from you but from them. No one in their right one works as long as hard as we do just for the fun of it. (Plus, we all have a vested interest - most cancer researchers know someone they love or in some cases (my own for ex) with cancer. Anyway - won't say more on that comment, it is a very upsetting one for me personally and somewhat insulting professionally. It may not be meant that way but it'll bother me all day now and yes, I'll prob say to my co-workers (but maybe not, I do not want them to think I am crazy, lol) "you will never guess what I read last night?"

I do wonder about pharmaceutical companies but even they have managed to discover some good cancer drugs - usually thru university collaboration. And yes, while I ask myself the same thing "is there such a thing as a good cancer drug?", I have to admit that even tho I did not enjoy chemo, I am still here and more than that, I have seen so many of my patients survive, live and thrive.

Anyway - that's enuf on that!! Back to work, lol

January 22nd, 2007, 02:07 AM
The difference between diabetes and AIDS though is diabetes has been researched for much longer and it isn't changing. And the problem with HIV drugs is they are creating more resistant strains, and they're also letting people with the virus live longer which makes them potentially able to infect a ton of people.

Hard to imagine it all started with one guy (so the theory goes).

Anyway, point being, even if there's a cure for diabetes, people will still be born with it (Type 1), and will still have to be on some sort of meds or undergo some sort of treatment, and that's where the profit would lie. Same with anything that cancer research leads to.:shrug:

January 22nd, 2007, 03:53 PM
There are so many theories re AIDs I can't keep them all straight - well the important ones I do but that's it, lol I think the original one is pretty much disproven but that was way back in the 80's and we know better now - or so we think. God knows what is around the corner, On a day like today, I do NOT want to know!

January 22nd, 2007, 03:59 PM
and somewhat insulting professionally

I am not insulting you CyberKitten, this is what I heard and I hear very sarcastic comments when people donate to the cancer society. Maybe it's just the people or the environment that I am in who feel this way.

This summer, I spent a week at the Onclogly Unit to spend time with my Aunt. We had great visits on this beautiful varanda, that over looked the city. It was donated by some corporation to the Princess Margreat. Without the money, the patients would have been stuck inside their room or the hospital hallway.

Personally, I think the hospital is not funded enough,the nurses shifts are too long, which makes them tierd and abit crabby. The rooms are shabby and the waiting list is very long for a procedure. My Aunt had an appoitment at 3:30 A.M for an MRI!!!!!

Trust me CK, I want a cure for cancer ASAP, I come from a long line of family members who have or are suffering from cancer.

It's no joke, when people you care about are crying on the phone because all their hair fell out and they sick from all the chemo and radition treatments. Or they are crying on the phone since they have to use a wheel chair or a walker to get around now.