Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A cure for cancer?

It sounds too good to be true. But everything I can find says this could be legitimate.

A molecule used for decades to combat metabolic diseases in children, may soon be available as an effective treatment for many forms of cancer, University of Alberta researchers are reporting.

In results that “astounded” school scientists, the molecule, known as DCA, was shown to shrink lung, breast and brain tumours in both animal and human tissue experiments. The study is being published today in the journal Cancer Cell.

Besides being known and safe, the drug is in the public domain -- meaning if this pans out, treatments would be dirt cheap. On the downside, it might be difficult to get it through clinical trials and bring it to market, since there's little or no profit in it for drug companies. So public financing of the trials may be necessary.

And those clinical trials are crucial. Lab results and even animal testing are nice, but the drug industry is littered with compounds that passed those two hurdles and failed in human testing. Such trials are expensive and take time, so any actual treatment is still years away.

But if this works, it would be way, way cool.

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