Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a debilitating condition that significantly impacts the quality of life of cancer patients undergoing treatment. Unfortunately, there are currently no effective pharmaceutical treatments available for CRF. However, a recent study led by researchers at Yale Cancer Center, part of Yale School of Medicine, has shown promising results with a metabolism-targeting drug called dichloroacetate (DCA).
In this study, researchers used mouse models with melanoma to investigate the potential of DCA in alleviating cancer-related fatigue. Importantly, the research found that DCA did not interfere with tumor growth or compromise the effectiveness of cancer treatments such as immunotherapy or chemotherapy in these mouse models. Instead, DCA had several positive effects, including preserving physical function and motivation in mice with late-stage tumors.
“This study identifies dichloroacetate, an activator of glucose oxidation, as the first intervention, and particularly the first metabolism-focused intervention, to prevent the whole syndrome of cancer-related fatigue in preclinical models,” stated senior author Rachel Perry, who is a member of Yale Cancer Center.
One key observation from the study was that DCA treatment appeared to reduce oxidative stress in the muscle tissue of tumor-bearing mice. This suggests that DCA may offer a promising approach to addressing cancer-related fatigue as an adjuvant therapy in the future.
These findings are encouraging and provide a pathway for further research into potential treatments for CRF. While more research is needed to confirm the safety and efficacy of DCA in human patients, this study represents a significant step toward addressing the challenging issue of cancer-related fatigue and improving the overall well-being of cancer patients undergoing treatment.
“We hope that this research will provide the bedrock for future clinical trials using dichloroacetate — an FDA-approved drug for another indication (lactic acidosis) — to treat the debilitating syndrome of cancer-related fatigue,” stated Perry, who is also an assistant professor of medicine (endocrinology) and of cellular and molecular physiology at Yale School of Medicine.
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