Journal of Neurology

, Volume 257, Issue 12, pp 2099–2100 | Cite as

Severe encephalopathy and polyneuropathy induced by dichloroacetate

  • Dieta BrandsmaEmail author
  • Thomas P. C. Dorlo
  • Haanen John H. 
  • Jos H. Beijnen
  • Willem Boogerd
Letter to the Editors

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 ( and Recently, a small clinical study was performed in five glioblastoma patients...


Dichloroacetate Facial Nerve Paresis Antineuronal Antibody Blood Plasma Concentration Bilateral Facial Nerve 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Coglan A (2007) Cheap, ‘safe’ drug kills most cancers. New Scientist magazine 11Google Scholar
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    Bonnet S, Archer SL, Allalunis-Turner J et al (2007) A mitochondria-K+ channel axis is suppressed in cancer and its normalization promotes apoptosis and inhibits cancer growth. Cancer Cell 11:37–51CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Michelakis ED, Webster L, Mackey JR (2008) Dichloroacetate (DCA) as a potential metabolic-targeting therapy for cancer. Br J Cancer 99:989–994CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Michelakis ED, Sutendra G, Dromparis P et al (2010) Metabolic modulation of glioblastoma with dichloroacetate. Sci Transl Med 2(31):31–34Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dieta Brandsma
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thomas P. C. Dorlo
    • 3
  • Haanen John H. 
    • 4
  • Jos H. Beijnen
    • 3
  • Willem Boogerd
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Neuro-oncologyAntoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital/The Netherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of NeurologySlotervaart HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacy & PharmacologySlotervaart Hospital/The Netherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Medical OncologyAntoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital/The Netherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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