, Volume 257, Issue 12, pp 2099-2100
Date: 15 Jul 2010

Severe encephalopathy and polyneuropathy induced by dichloroacetate

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Dear Sirs,

In 2007, an article in the New Scientist presented dichloroacetate (DCA) as ‘a cheap and safe drug that kills most cancers’ [1]. This statement was based on the findings of Bonnet et al. (2007) [2], who showed that DCA induces apoptosis and decreases in vitro tumor growth in several cancer cell lines by shifting the metabolism of cancer cells from glycolysis to glucose oxidation. In the same study, DCA was administered to nude rats in the drinking water (75 mg/L, during 3 months) and could prevent and reverse tumor growth without apparent toxicity. Dichloroacetate was proposed as an attractive candidate for proapoptotic cancer therapy [3]. Without any clinical data, DCA was hailed as a ‘miracle drug’ on internet-based patient forums and has since been prescribed off-label by alternative physicians or bought directly by patients via webshops (http://www.puredca.com and http://www.pharma-dca.com). Recently, a small clinical study was performed in five glioblastoma patients trea ...