Nature magazine has reported that cancer patients have been buying an untried drug in the web hoping to find some remedy for their illness. The drug called DCA, short form for dichlroacetate has been reported to decrease the size of tumors in rats. But it has not been tested in humans so far.
Understandably, terminally sick patients do not want to wait for the research in humans and it has been reported that around two hundred patients worldwide have bought this drug over the net.
Dr Evangelos Michelakis, from University of Alberta in Canada, has been investigating the drug DCA, or dichloroacetate in rats. It is a small molecule which blocks an enzyme in mitochondria that generate energy in cells and also control cell suicide. Tests on rats indicated that DCA prompts the cancer cells to die and tumors shrank by around 75% in three weeks. Related work on DCA also suggests that it can kill human cancer cells in lab but patients have not been tested with this.
Dr Michelakis feels that this sort of use of the drug could weaken attempts to carry out a controlled trial. It is also essential to find out about the contra indications of the drugs. The US FDA is investigating the web purchasing of DCA. According to health experts terminally ill patients are keen to try whatever is available as they feel they have nothing to lose. But Professor John Toy, medical director of Cancer Research UK strongly advised patients not to buy DCA.