An inexpensive drug already in use for other diseases might hold the key to a completely new way of treating cancers – not by killing off cancer cells, but by simply reprogramming them.
These findings come from exciting Canadian research on patients with brain tumours. The study revealed that DCA – or sodium dichloroacetate – can shrink the tumors by altering the cancer cell’s metabolism. While the study was small, only five patients, the researchers say their findings are “proof in principle” that this treatment approach works.
However, since DCA is a generic drug, no big pharmaceutical companies can claim exclusivity over the potential sales if they decide to fund further studies on cancer. The only remaining option to continue researching its potential place in oncology remains within the universities, health authorities and the support of funding agencies.
“That was the biggest challenge in the beginning: no industry support, no clinical applications,” explained Dr. Evangelos Michelakis.
Nevertheless, with the generous support of potential donors and the work of the scientific community, anything can happen.
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