Dichloroacetic acid versus Sodium Dichloroacetate
Dichloroacetic acid is a small molecule, basically acetic acid with 2 chlorines. The molecular formula is Cl2CHCOOH.
Dichloroacetate is the sodium salt of dichloroacetic acid. Replace a hydrogen with sodium and you get Cl2CHCOONa
How does DCA work, briefly?
The Michelakis team reports that DCA turns on the mitochondria of cancer cells, allowing them to commit cellular suicide, or apoptosis.
Cancer cells shut down the mitochondria, which is the part of the cell that is involved in metabolism and, incidentally, initiates the cell suicide.
A non-cancerous cell will initiate apoptosis when it detects damage within itself that it cannot repair. But a cancer cell resists the suicide process. That is why chemotherapy and radiation treatments do not work very well and actually result in terrible side effects… the healthy cells actually die much easier.
Michelakis and his team discovered that they could re-activate the mitochondria of cancer cells. Not only that, the DCA is very effective in doing it: To quote from the Michelakis paper: “The decrease in [Ca2+]i occurs within 5 min and is sustained after 48 hr of DCA exposure.” The mitochondria are so sensitive to DCA that just 5 minutes of exposure reactivates them for 48 hours.