Sodium Dichloroacetate (DCA) Has Been Shown To Reactivate Glucose Oxidation In Mitochondria, Restarting Apoptosis And Suppressing Tumors
When someone receives the bad news, God forbid, that they have cancer, usually the only options available through a doctor are chemotherapy and radiation. The positives, and mostly negatives, of chemotherapy and radiation will be discussed in future articles on The Cancer Herald. This article will explore an alternative known as sodium dichloroacetate (DCA); a drug which gave my mom an extra year of health and well-being before her doctors demanded that she stop taking it, after which point she quickly died.
Dr. Evangelos Michalekis was a pioneer in DCA research. Michalekis was originally working on curing pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and soon discovered that abnormal pulmonary arterial cells have a marker called survivin, which is also found in cancer cells. It seemed the link between PAH and cancer was primarily due to abnormal mitochondria, which are considered the powerhouses of a cell. Mitochondria typically are in control of programmed cell death, i.e. apoptosis, but in the case of PAH and cancer, programmed cell death does not occur, causing cells to grow out of control, which is what leads to tumors.
Michalekis then did heavy research to find a drug that would target mitochondria to restart apoptosis, in order to cure PAH, and eventually found sodium dichloroacetate (DCA). In-fact, since 1973 DCA had been used to treat mitochondrial disorders via inhibiting the activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, which reduces the accumulation of lactic acid in tissues, which is a side-effect of restarting glucose oxidation within the mitochondria. DCA is being successfully used to this day for treating lactic acidosis in the United States and Canada.
When treating PAH, DCA yielded remarkable results, as Michalekis states “We showed that the mitochondria in PAH cells in both animals and humans were suppressed. When we gave DCA, these mitochondria became active again. Apoptosis, which requires functional mitochondria, was reactivated, and abnormal cells within the walls of pulmonary arteries started dying, opening up the lumen and improving PAH.”
Essentially, DCA works as a molecular scalpel, targeting abnormally growing cells while leaving regular cells alone.
Even though Michalekis used DCA to fight PAH, it is immediately clear how it can be useful for cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation target cancer cells by killing them, but these treatments also kill healthy cells. It would be an outright miracle to have a molecular scalpel to remove the cancer while leaving regular cells alive.
Michelakis then went on to research DCA’s efficacy against cancer, and found that just like with PAH, DCA reactivated mitochondria and re-instated apoptosis, which essentially means it stops and reverses the growth of tumors.
As eloquently described in Michalekis’ 2007 paper ‘Dichloroacetate (DCA) as a potential metabolic-targeting therapy for cancer‘, DCA inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, increasing the flux of pyruvate into the mitochondria, promoting glucose oxidation over glycolysis. This reversed the suppression of mitochondrial apoptosis in cancer cells, suppressing tumor growth in-vitro and in-vivo.
A more detailed explanation is that pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) is an enzyme which is over-expressed in cancer cells. PDK deactivates the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) complex of enzymes on the outer mitochondrial membrane. PDH controls the flow of glucose into the mitochondrial powerhouse, essentially shutting off the fuel to the mitochondria, making it so that the Kreb’s cycle no longer can occur, shutting off glucose oxidation. This shuts down apoptosis, leading to cancerous tumors. These cell then suck in glucose from their environment to use in glycolysis, which is less efficient than glucose oxidation, but is enough energy for the cell to survive despite the mitochondria being inactive.
Essentially, glycolysis, which is a unique metabolic property of tumors also known as the Warburg effect, is the basis of diagnosing cancer via metabolic imaging, and Michalekis postulated that this unique metabolic property may be why cancer cells are resistant to apoptosis. Essentially, if mitochondria cannot perform glucose oxidation then they become inactive and are no longer able to conduct programmed cell death.
In early clinical trials Michalekis found that DCA solves this issue, which is even more incredible considering it may be the common denominator for all types of cancer. In simple terms, this means DCA has the potential to fight every type of cancer.
Michalekis soon went on to perform clinical trials on 49 patents who opted in, and the University of Alberta agreed to cover indemnity, since industry sponsors who typically do so did not want to. This was an early sign that the cancer industry was not supportive of getting DCA approved to treat cancer.
In the 49 patients there was mitochondrial hyper-polarization, and the DCA rapidly reversed this. This means the DCA depolarized mitochondria, increasing mitochondrial reaction oxygen species, inducing apoptosis in-vitro and in-vivo. Another result was that DCA also inhibited hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha and promoted p53 activation, suppressing angiogenesis, which is the development of new blood vessels in tumors. Basically, DCA stopped tumors from growing new blood vessels, cutting off their source of energy and stopping their growth.
This miraculous result opened up the door for many more DCA studies and trials, and these will be discussed in future articles on The Cancer Herald.
Also, DCA was found to have efficacy in totally non-toxic doses, and did not cause any neuropathy in the subjects. The primary side-effect of DCA is supposedly neuropathy, and future articles on The Cancer Herald will discuss this, but at least in Michalekis’ research neuropathy did not seem to be an issue.
Michalekis’ research has made it clear that DCA has the potential to fight cancer, as well as other diseases caused by out of control cell growth due to mitochondria that are not able to properly perform glucose oxidation. It seems absurd that DCA has not yet been FDA approved for cancer, since these early trials were nearly a decade ago now and showed very promising results. It is especially absurd since chemotherapy and radiation are like a molecular nuclear bomb, where alot of cells die including healthy ones, and what is needed is a molecular scalpel to get rid of the cancerous cells while leaving regular cells alive. DCA may be the exact molecular scalpel which is needed according to Michalekis’ research.
Using my right of freedom of speech, and to be quite blunt, it can be speculated that the cancer industry makes so much money, on the order of $150 billion per year in 2017, that a drug which actually cures cancer may be suppressed by the corporate giants who make their billions off of chemotherapy medicines and radiation. This may explain why DCA is not FDA approved yet. This is just speculation based on the author’s intuition and experience, and such speculation might sound outrageous to many people, since it seems unimaginably inhumane to let so many people die and suffer just to make money. However, the tobacco industry is a case example of how corporations can put money ahead of people’s health and lives, so such a scenario within the cancer industry is not impossible. This topic will be explored more precisely in future articles on The Cancer Herald.
Fortunately, cancer patients have the choice of taking DCA themselves since it is legal, but the lack of FDA approval makes it so practically no doctor would recommend it, and if one chooses to take DCA the doctor probably will not monitor the treatment. Therefore, anyone who chooses to use DCA needs to do heavy research on DCA, as well as cancer in general, since essentially someone who chooses to use DCA has to perform the treatment and monitor the progress themselves.