Washington: Researchers claim to have found evidence that vitamin C can boost tumour death in brain cancer patients, a finding which could pave the way for an effective
treatment for the disease.
An international team, led by University of Otago, says its research has revealed that high doses of vitamin C makes it easier for radiation therapy to kill brain tumour cells in cancer patients.
In their study, the researchers actually analysed how combining high dose vitamin C with radiation affected survival of cancer cells isolated from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumours and compared this with survival of normal cells.
The findings revealed that high dose vitamin C by itself caused DNA damage and cell death which was more pronounced when high dose vitamin C was given just prior to radiation, the `Free Radical Biology and Medicine` journal reported.
Lead author Dr Patries Herst said that GBM patients have a poor prognosis because the aggressive GBM tumours are very resistant to radiation therapy. "We found that high dose vitamin C makes it easier to kill these GBM cells by radiation therapy," she said in a university release.
There has long been debate about the use of high dose vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. High dose vitamin C specifically kills a range of cancer cells in the laboratory
and in animal models.
It produces aggressive free radicals in the tumour environment but not in the environment of healthy cells. The free radicals damage DNA, which kills the cells, but the high concentration necessary to kill cancer cells can only be achieved by intravenous injection, say the scientists.
However, these findings have so far not been validated. "If carefully designed clinical trials show that combining high dose vitamin C with radiation therapy improves patient
survival, there may be merit in combining both treatments for radiation-resistant cancers," Herst said.