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DCA research on brain cancer
Date:5/12/2010

on-human models tested in the lab do not agree with the results in patients. In addition, the team showed that DCA has anti-cancer effects by altering the metabolism of glioblastoma cancer stem cells, the cells thought responsible for the recurrences of cancer.

In the 5 patients tested, the drug took 3 months to reach blood levels high enough to alter the tumor's metabolism. At those levels, there were no significant adverse effects. However, at some of the higher doses tested, DCA caused nerve malfunction, i.e. numbing of toes and fingers. Importantly, in some patients there was also evidence for clinical benefit, with the tumors either regressing in size or not growing further during the 18 month study.

No conclusions can be made on whether the drug is safe or effective in patients with this form of brain cancer, due to the limited number of patients tested by the study's leads Drs Michelakis and Petruk. Researchers emphasize that use of DCA by patients or physicians, supplied from for-profit sources or without close clinical observation by experienced medical teams in the setting of research trials, is not only inappropriate but may also be dangerous. The U of A results are encouraging and support the need for larger clinical trials with DCA. This work is also one of the first in humans to support the emerging idea that altering the metabolism of tumors is a new direction in the treatment of cancer, Michelakis and Petruk said.

The research team hopes to secure additional funding to continue the ongoing trials with DCA at the University of Alberta. Further studies would include more patients with brain cancer, and test the combination of DCA and standard chemotherapies, eventually including patients from other academic health sciences centres.

One of the intriguing features of this work was that it was funded largely by public donations, including philanthropic foundations and individuals. In addition, it received strong suppo
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Contact: Noreen Remtulla
noreen.remtulla@ualberta.ca
780-492-5986
University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Source:Eurekalert

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