Vitamin C: A Potential Breakthrough in the Fight Against Cancer

Vitamin C: A Potential Breakthrough in the Fight Against Cancer

By Shakir Sayani

A recent breakthrough study from the laboratory of Lewis Cantley at the Weill Cornell School of Medicine reported the use of vitamin C therapy in diminishing tumor size. The researchers were investigating colorectal cancer caused in part by mutations in KRAS and BRAF. They first asked whether adding or supplying high doses of vitamin C to cancer cells growing in a petri dish can ultimately lead to their demise. To investigate this hypothesis further, the scientists set forth on a series of experiments delivering high doses of vitamin C to the cancer cells.

The results of their experiment were simply astonishing. The investigators revealed that high doses of vitamin C led to the efficient death of the laboratory-grown cancer cells. However, they remarked that they utilized what is known as an oxidized form of vitamin C, which upon gaining entry to the inside of the cell, is chemically altered by the cellular machinery to its functional form.

The momentum of their initial experiment propelled them to further apply their work to a mouse model of cancer. They were specifically interested in tumors driven by mutations in KRAS and BRAF genes. They intravenously supplied high daily doses of vitamin C to the bloodstream of the mice bearing these tumors. The researchers discovered that after the mice had been placed on an intravenous vitamin C therapy, their tumors began to shrink within a few weeks.

The scientists became further interested in determining the changes that took place inside the tumor cells that caused their demise. Upon further investigation, the researchers discovered that the high dose of vitamin C was blocking an important metabolic protein known as GAPDH inside tumor cells. The efficient block of this protein’s activity further depleted the energy generating reactions of tumor cells leading to their ultimate death.

The present study is a breakthrough in the use of vitamin C as a potential cancer therapeutic option. The researchers of the present study have even insinuated that they wish for their study to be further utilized in an early phase of clinical trials so that their findings can lead to perhaps a faster, more effective and less toxic bench-to-bedside treatment option for cancer.

Published in the journal, Science (December 15th, 2015).


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