Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Dichloroacetate (DCA) - not an easy road to "cheap, patentless cancer cure"

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Ginger, curcumin, and DCA have recently been touted for their anticancer properties, and, granted, in the Petri dish, they look pretty good. However, it's a long road from the Petri dish to the pharmacy shelves. Abel Pharmboy's coverage of DCA seems to be the most spot-on, and his points are worth repeating. Many compounds show promise in the Petri dish and animal models, but when it comes to human trials, they bomb. It is entirely possible, in fact, from drug development experience I would say very likely, that DCA will do very little for humans in trials. It may be ineffective when we actually inject it into human beings (for anticancer purposes; it's already approved for some metabolic disorders).

Remember, cancer is a complex disease. To "cure cancer" is really to cure a whole lot of different diseases, which is why our "war on cancer" applies some rather naive assumptions.

I'm all for supporting DCA research, and, unlike some of the more paranoid commenters on this issue, I think that Pharma companies are taking notice. It's not unthinkable that some NIH oncology funding is in the pipeline for the compound, or some small pharma company will in-license the compound/formulation/use and perhaps even bring some of Big Pharma's research dollars in if the compound passes Phase II trials (Phase I safety testing should be a breeze relatively speaking, since it's already approved for some indications). Before we get up in arms about what is patentable and whether research dollars will be spent on a promising compound, realize that nearly everybody in this industry is for helping others, and we will find a way to get the most promising compounds studied and, if they work, on the market.