Written by Timm Hoeres, Markus Horneber and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated July 13, 2016

Dichloroacetate

Abstract and key points

  • Dichloroacetate (DCA) is a synthetic halogenated organic acid which has been used in rare diseases like congenital lactic acidosis.
  • No controlled clinical trials of DCA are available.
  • DCA is generally well tolerated; doses up to 6.25 mg/kg body weight twice daily can be administered safely to most subjects.

Dichloroacetate (DCA) is a substance that is being used for medical treatment of rare congenital forms of lactic acidosis, particularly pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) deficiency. The current interest in DCA as a cancer remedy evolved after the publication of a scientific article in 2007 that reported the ability of this compound to cause selective death of human cancer cells studied in tissue culture or after implantation into animal hosts. Subsequent claims by various non-scientific, for-profit groups were directed at the lay public regarding DCA’s purported anti-cancer effectiveness, based on results from the original pre-clinical studies and subsequent mostly unverifiable testimonials.

Following the initial report, several independent researchers have confirmed and extended the original findings of DCA’s anti-neoplastic activity in a variety of human cancer cells and animal models. These studies provide evidence that DCA interacts with fundamental metabolic and signalling pathways to inhibit malignant cell proliferation and could increase the effect of several anti-cancer substances.

No controlled clinical trials of DCA are available. The results of four small phase I trials, in which safety was the primary outcome, suggest that chronic administration of DCA as a single substance is generally well tolerated and might have effects against some human tumours. Though one study was terminated prematurely due to safety concerns, there is evidence that doses up to 6.25 mg/kg body weight twice daily can be administered safely to most subjects.

Citation

Timm Hoeres, Markus Horneber, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Dichloroacetate [online document]. http://www.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Dichloroacetate. July 13, 2016.

Document history

Summary fully revised and updated in July 2016 by Timm Hoeres and Markus Horneber.
Summary first published in August 2010, authored by Irene Fischer, Markus Horneber, Katja Boehm.

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