Vitamin C may finally be declared an effective treatment for cancer, according to a recently published study featuring in the Science journal.
Research into the potential applications of Vitamin C in tumor treatment began with Linus Pauling in the 1970s. Following a couple of failed clinical trials, the research was shelved and largely forgotten.
Now, new research brings Vitamin C in the spotlight. The main finding of years of work is that Vitamin C is effective in targeting and killing tumor cells carrying a mutation that has been known to cause cancer. Trials conducted on mice have proven successful. Tumor cells were killed and the growth of tumors carrying this common mutation was halted.
Vitamin C may finally be declared an effective treatment for cancer, with scientists claiming this breakthrough to be life-saving. Channing Der, molecular biologist with the University of North Carolina stated:
“This could be one answer to the question everybody’s striving for”.
For the handful of researchers that have maintained a lively interest in Pauling’s Vitamin C research as a potential drug targeting mutation-cancers, the new study is highly gratifying. 1971 marked the year when Pauling associated with a Scottish colleague to further pursue their interest in treating cancer patients with Vitamin C. Two clinical trials conducted with the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota failed. As such, interest dampened.
Nonetheless, a new group of researchers decided to pursue the same hypothesis. During the past five years a number of studies have looked at how pancreatic cancer patients and ovarian cancer patients may be treated with intravenous vitamin C. This treatment was combined with chemotherapy to enable a growth in survival rate.
Jihye Yun, who is a postdoctoral fellow with the Weill Cornell Medicine, New York made a remarkable discovery while he was still a graduate student with the John Hopkins University, Baltimore.
Yun discovered that colon cancer cells the growth of which is enabled by mutations in the KRAS or BRAF genes produce significantly large amounts of GLUT1. GLUT1 is a protein responsible for glucose reaching the membrane of the cell. In order to survive, cells need to feed on large amounts of glucose. In addition to glucose, GLUT1 also delivers dehydroascorbic acid (DHA) to the cells. DHA is a form of Vitamin C resulted from an oxidation process.
And it spells trouble for cancer cells. DHA dampens the cell’s ability to fend off free radicals that may attack it when they found a weak spot. As such, Yun suggested that cancer cells may be targeted with large amounts of DHA, weakening them and triggering the body’s response to the invasive cancer cells.
When applied to mice, the treatment proved largely successful. KRAS and BRAF mutated colon cancer cells were targeted with the oxidized form of Vitamin C. Thus free radicals found the way to metabolize the glucose in the cells, starving them to death.
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