Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Is Big Pharma Ignoring a Potential Cancer Cure?

One of Salk's admirers is Evangelos Michelakis, a cancer researcher at the University of Alberta who, three years ago, discovered that a common, nontoxic chemical known as DCA, short for dichloroacetate, seems to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors in mice. Michelakis' initial findings garnered much fanfare at the time and have recirculated on the Web again this week, in large part because of a blog post ("Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice") that ignited fresh debate with people wondering if it was true.

The mechanism by which DCA works in mice is remarkably simple: It killed most types of cancer cells by disrupting the way they metabolize sugar, causing them to self-destruct without adversely affecting normal tissues.

Following the animal trials, Michelakis and his colleagues did tests of DCA on human cancer cells in a Petri dish, then conducted human clinical trials using $1.5 million in privately raised funds. His encouraging results — DCA treatment appeared to extend the lives of four of the five study participants — were published last year in Science Translational Medicine.

The preliminary work in rodents, cell cultures, and small trials on humans points to DCA as being a powerful cancer treatment. That doesn't mean it's the long-awaited cure — many other compounds have seemed similarly promising in the early stages of research without later living up to that promise — but nonetheless, Michelakis believes larger human trials on DCA are warranted.

Like Jonas Salk, Michelakis hasn't patented his discovery. It's not because he doesn't want to, but because he can't. When it comes to patents, DCA really is like the sun: It's a cheap, widely used chemical that no one can own.

In today's world, such drugs don't readily attract funding.

Pharmaceutical companies are not exactly ignoring DCA, and they definitely aren't suppressing DCA research — it's just that they're not helping it. Why? Drug development is ultimately a business, and investing in the drug simply isn't a good business move. "Big Pharma has no interest whatsoever in investing [in DCA research] because there will be no profit," Michelakis told Life's Little Mysteries,a sister site to LiveScience.
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/05/18/big-pharma-ignoring-potential-cancer-cure/#ixzz1MmRjUm5i


[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, May 25th, 2011.]

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