Based at the Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida, Cancer Ecology is a small research group led by David Basanta. We are mathematical modellers who work with biologists and clinicians, trying to understand the ecology of tumors and the evolutionary dynamics of cancer progression and resistance to treatment.

Mitochondria and apoptosis

A couple of posts ago I mentioned this research in which RNAi was used to restore the functionality of the mitochondria, especially its role in apoptosis. Now I read that the same results are being obtained by Dr. Michelakis and colleagues at the University of Alberta in Canada using a well known drug, dichloroacetate (DCA).

DCA is an affordable drug that has been previously used to treat metabolic disorders so it is known to be safe and has no patent. What should have been a blessing could also be a curse since there is little incentive to large pharmaceutical companies to finance the clinical trials. The news has been reported in all sorts of news outlets from Cancer Cell to Slashdot and including The Economist. In this website you will be able to find the latest results as well as information on how to donate money so Dr. Michelakis and his group can finance the clinical trials.

Incidentally, in the link pointing to these news in the online version of The New Scientist, a researchers from Dundee mentions something I did not think of at that time. It could be that the metabolism and not genetic mutations spark cancer. Of course for the metabolic switch to take place you will still need hypoxia (low oxygen due to distance to vasculature) which means, if I am not wrong, a neoplasm.

Axelrod et al: Evolution of cooperation among tumor cells

World cancer day