Lack of financial incentive prevents further progress for cancer treatment

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In the 1930s, scientists discovered the link between mitochondria and cancer. The Warburg effect describes how cancer cells suffer hypoxia because of surrounding tumors and malfunctioning mitochondria. In 2007 the UoA conducted studies with tissue cultures from human cancer and rats and showed that the DCA treatment restores the self-destructive process of apoptosis, which malfunctions when the cell switches from normal cell respiration to glycolysis to metabolize enough oxygen. As a result the cancer cells are selectively destroyed with no toxicity if dosage is properly controlled. In 2010 these results were progressed into the first clinical trials with humans in which four of the five patients had their lives extended upwards of 18 months also with no nerve toxicity as a result of the treatment.

What is DCA?

Diachloracetic acid (DCA) is an
analogue of acetic acid (aka vinegar)
and has been established as a
potential treatment for various types
of lung, breast and brain cancer
according to 2007 and 2010 research
publications from the University of
Alberta. Although the compound’s
chemical structure is similar to
vingear, this does not necessarily
mean that it will be functionally
analogous and therefore clinical
trials are needed to determine the
unique properties and effects of DCA.

The potential treatment received inadequate media attention with the initial release of the data and is still not effectively reported to the public even though research has progressed positively.

Just in May of 2011 the University of Genoa in Italy published a study that claimed DCA inhibits the growth of tumors from neuroblastoma, which is the most common cancer for infants. In the fall of 2011 reports about DCA began to pop up again on the Internet for the first time since the original flurry after the 2007 and 2010 research. Mainstream news organizations Fox and MSNBC hosted a blog post from Life’s Little Mysteries staff writer Natalie Wolchover with titles like “Is Big Pharma Ignoring a Potential Cancer Cure?” from Fox and “Blog post stokes fresh interest in potential cancer treatment: three-year-old discovery shows that common chemical seems to inhibit tumor growth” from MSNBC.
I think there is an issue with the reporting on DCA because it does not focus enough of its attention on the barriers to its development. Take the ABC news article in 2007 for example.

The title “DCA: Cancer Breakthrough or Urban Legend?” essentially polarizes the DCA debate into the compound being either a miraculous gift from science or an overblown conspiracy. Not only do most major news organizations fail to adequately educate the public on issues such as cancer research, but also the coverage that they do provide tends to be mediocre and biased or misleading whether intentional or not.

Fox’s use of the blog post for their DCA article is controversial because of the title that they selected for it. The original author from Life’s Little Mysteries had updated their post to “remove any impression that Big Pharma is to blame for the lack of research into DCA” and insisted that the real barrier to progress was a lack of financial incentive. However, because Fox News chose the title “Is Big Pharma Ignoring a Potential Cancer Cure?” the story is immediately interpreted as suspecting conspiracy and, so is ignored by more conservative readers. Likewise when MSNBC describes the treatment as a “three-year-old” discovery being refreshed by a blog post it gives he impression that DCA is not legitimate enough to be properly considered.

The main problem is not about the frequency of DCA reporting but is about the quality of that reporting. When the public receives information from mainstream organizations they assume that it will be the most moderate view available. An issue arises when these organizations fail to provide enough coverage of issues that would be agreed upon as being important. The public suffers because they do not get a chance to properly respond to new information and is also more vulnerable to misinformation or misinterpretation. DCA treatment and its research could be misinterpreted very easily based upon its coverage in media outlets.

Because DCA cannot be held under strict intellectual property protection the treatment is very inexpensive to administer but still needs funding for more clinical trials. Even with all of the research into DCA the compound still needs to be studied further for doctors to be justified in safely prescribing it to patients. The UoA was able to gather $800,000 for its 2007 study with online solicitation in just six months. If proper media attention was given to DCA as a potential cancer treatment this would balance out for the inadequate funding received by financial institutions and increase interest in the further development and research into the compound. Until then patients will continue to self-treat with privately acquired DCA and publish their stories online and if the status quo remains, the mainstream media won’t give DCA the coverage it deserves.


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