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mia44
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2007

This was on the news weeks ago and we should try to do something to get this drug moving forward.
PrintEmail Article Tools Page 1 of 1 The headlines should have read: Canadian scientist discovers possible cancer cure. Wolf Blitzer should have mentioned it on CNN. Instead, the headlines read something closer to: "Big-Breasted Blonde Bimbo Bites Big One."

Wolf must have had bigger things on his mind.

Scientists at the University of Alberta have discovered that a low-cost chemical called dichloroacetate, or DCA, which has been used for years to treat a rare metabolic disorder, may be effective at killing most kinds of cancer. Scientists announced the results in the January 2007 issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

The discovery probably failed to grab the same headlines as Anna Nicole Smith's death because it's doubtful that the drug will ever make it to the market. It's unlikely that pharmaceutical companies will conduct the necessary clinical trials to get FDA approval because DCA has been in use for years, and no company owns the patent, therefore it is considered public domain.

The drug can be given a patent for a particular use, but such a patent doesn't carry the exclusive rights that guarantee the same high profits as standard patents. For pharmaceutical companies, which spend $40 billion annually on research to get the drugs FDA approval, a drug that requires billions in testing without guaranteed profits is a tough sell to investors.

Early tests have shown amazing results in laboratory animals and cultures of cancer cells - including lung, breast and brain cancer - without damaging healthy cells. However, scientists have reason to be skeptical because similar promising treatments have failed to be effective in tests on humans.

Since pharmaceutical companies won't touch the drug, the funding for additional human trials must come from nonprofit cancer organizations and government sources such as the National Institute of Health. The NIH has very limited funds - nowhere near the amount needed to take this drug all the way to FDA approval. Pharmaceutical companies usually foot the bill at the stage in the process where large clinical trials take place.

Universities must take a leading role in pushing research forward if no one else will. The UT System, which houses some of the nation's finest cancer treatment centers in the nation, is in the position to use its resources to petition the NIH for funds to begin some basic testing.

If universities can find more evidence showing the drug is actually effective on human subjects, the drug may draw attention meriting more than a mention in passing on the daily news. More definitive evidence may also draw new sources of funding, giving the drug some chance of one day reaching patients.

It is the duty of universities to do what is in the best interest of all humanity, even if it's not profitable. We don't want to be the generation who left a cure for cancer in the trash can of history.

nanuk's picture
nanuk
Posts: 1363
Joined: Dec 2003

for those inquiring minds: http://scienceroll.com/2007/01/31/curing-cancer-the-dichloroacetate-story/

nanuk's picture
nanuk
Posts: 1363
Joined: Dec 2003

for those inquiring minds: http://scienceroll.com/2007/01/31/curing-cancer-the-dichloroacetate-story/

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