Treatment and prevention of cancer by targeting cancer cell metabolism with dichloroacetate.

Dichloroacetate (DCA), an inhibitor of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, is an old drug that has been used in the treatment of rare metabolic disorders that result in very high levels of lactic acid in the blood.  Cancer cells are metabolically quite different to normal cells, and also produce large amounts of lactic acid. DCA has recently been shown to be able to inhibit the growth of several types of cancer cells. We are examining the ability of DCA to inhibit growth of breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo in animal models.  We are also examining the ability of DCA to work in combination with and enhance the effectiveness of other anti-cancer treatments.  As DCA is a relatively non-toxic drug, we are also investigating if DCA has the ability to prevent the development of cancer in the p53 deficient mouse model, as this may offer individuals highly susceptible to breast cancer an alternative to radical preventive surgery. (1, 2)


This research is currently supported by a Novel Concept Grant from the Australian National Breast Cancer Foundation.