A 15 Year Evolution of Dichloroacetate-Based Metabolic Cancer Therapy: A Review with Case Reports

Main Article Content

Akbar Khan, MD, IMD, DHS, FAAO Mitchell Ghen, DO, PhD

Abstract

Despite Otto Warburg’s discovery of aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells in the 1920’s, the potential for developing therapeutics that targeted cancer cell metabolism was essentially ignored until 2007 when a groundbreaking publication was released from a group of Canadian researchers. Bonnet et al. (who paradoxically were not specialized in oncology) discovered that the generic drug dichloroacetate sodium (“DCA”) could reverse the Warburg phenotype in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo resulting in natural cancer cell suicide and tumour shrinkage in rats. This phenomenon was previously thought to be impossible as it was believed that mitochondria in malignant cells were permanently altered and unable to trigger apoptosis. Despite the fact that no large clinical trial of DCA as a cancer therapy was ever completed, a small number of doctors in North America and Europe rapidly translated this new knowledge into clinical cancer protocols through independent observational research and creative thinking.


Since off-label drug use is permitted in most jurisdictions, clinicians initially began to use DCA in patients who had failed all conventional therapies. Over the years, further novel anti-cancer mechanisms of DCA were discovered such as angiogenesis inhibition, immune activation and cancer stem cell targeting. Around 2011, the work of Seyfried (USA) began to illuminate the importance of glutamine inhibition and suggested that a multi-energetic targeted approach was superior to glycolysis inhibition alone.


A collaborative effort of the authors incorporating Seyfried’s concepts resulted in the creation of a new metabolic protocol named “MOMENTUM” (Metabolic, Oncologic, Multi-ENergetic Targeted, Universal, Modified). In this protocol, glucose and glutamine metabolism were targeted simultaneously with a combination of multiple natural and pharmacologic agents administered intravenously.  Surprising preliminary clinical results in several difficult cancer cases confirmed that metabolic multi-targeted methods are extremely promising, and more so than metabolic monotherapy. Life threatening side effects of this approach to cancer management are virtually non-existent and therapy costs are manageable.


A disappointing absence of industry funding for large clinical trials has not curtailed the development of the metabolic approach as a clinically viable methodology, proving that unadulterated medical science can conquer the ongoing push for multibillion-dollar economic reward.

Keywords: dichloroacetate, cancer, glycolysis, Warburg, glutamine, mitochondria, metabolic, apoptosis

Article Details

How to Cite
KHAN, Akbar; GHEN, Mitchell. A 15 Year Evolution of Dichloroacetate-Based Metabolic Cancer Therapy: A Review with Case Reports. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 7.2, july 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/4118>. Date accessed: 19 july 2024. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v11i7.2.4118.
Section
Review Articles

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