Dichloroacetate (DCA), or more specific sodium dichloroacetate (NaDCA), is identified by the chemical formula Cl2CHCOONa. It is the salt form of dichloroacetic acid, Cl2CHCOOH. The acid is also sometimes abbreviated DCA, but the acid is highly corrosive and dangerous, while the salt form is relatively non-toxic, odorless and colorless. DCA is a simple compound that can be produced cheaply and sold at an affordable price.
How does dicholoracetate work to cure cancer?
DCA has so far only been tested on three types of human cancer: non-small-cell lung cancer, glioblastomas (brain cancer) and breast cancer. It has been effective at treating all three in humans as well as lymphoma in humans, cats and ferrets. To understand how it works, one must first understand what causes cancer.
Cancer is the result of uninhibited cell growth and no cell death or apoptosis. Cell death and then replacement with healthy new cells is a natural process, but with cancer the apoptosis does not occur. The reason that cell death stops is due to an issue that arises with the mitochondria - this can be caused by a number of factors from age to exposure to carcinogens. The mitochondria of a cell is the part that is responsible for regulating the apoptosis. Cancers are large numbers of essentially immortal cells that result in various problems throughout an otherwise healthy body.
Interestingly, dicholoroacetate has the ability to kickstart the mitochondria again when they have stopped working. This makes the cancerous cells function like normal cells again, allowing them to die. This will cause a shrink in both size of cancerous tumors as well as a decrease in their mass. For many years, it has been believed in the medical community that once the mitochondria begin to malfunction they can never again function normally, but DCA has changed this notion.
What are the benefits of DCA?
In addition to DCA dramatically reducing the size of tumors and slowing their growth, it does not negatively effect neighboring healthy cells. Modern chemotherapy is known to indiscriminately annihilate all cells because it is unable to distinguish between normal cells and cancerous ones. This is why chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy are so devastating and make cancer patients even sicker when trying to combat their cancer. It has been tested both on healthy patients as well as patients with cancer and the healthy patients did not suffer any ill effects from it.
Brain cancers, which cannot be reached by other drugs and various treatments, can be accessed using DCA therapy. Because dicholoracetate molecules are small and simple the body will readily and easily absorb them. This makes it very viable for cancers that have otherwise been labelled as untreatable.
Why is DCA not a common option?
The great benefits that come with DCA being a small molecule are also proving to hinder it being offered as a cancer treatment in most places. The small molecules cannot be patented, which means that pharmaceutical companies cannot profit from its widespread distribution.