A new study published in Science has reported a promising treatment for colorectal cancer using high doses of vitamin C.
About half of colorectal cancer cases contain genetic mutations that result in resistance to therapy. Previous studies have shown that colorectal cancer cells with these mutations have overactive sugar metabolism. In a new study, a group of scientists showed that high doses of vitamin C could selectively kill these mutant colorectal cancer cells.
The study demonstrated that vitamin C was transported into colorectal cancers cells using the same route as glucose, a type of sugar used for producing energy in the cell. Uptake of vitamin C was found to be significantly higher in the mutant cancer cells compared to non-mutant cells. The study showed that the application of high doses of vitamin C resulted in the selective killing of mutant cancer cells. High-dose vitamin C caused an imbalance in sugar and energy metabolism, which severely reduced the growth and survival of the mutant cancer cells compared to non-mutant cancer cells that absorbed less vitamin C. In experiments in mice, administration of high-dose vitamin C for 3 to 4 weeks effectively reduced the size of intestinal tumors containing the genetic mutations compared to untreated animals.
According to the study, high doses of vitamin C can be administered in humans by intravenous route without any toxic effects and the efficacy of vitamin C in treating colorectal cancer should be further tested in clinical trials.
Yun J, Mullarky E, Lu C, Bosch KN, Kavalier A, Papadopoulos N, Gross SS, Cantley LC. Vitamin C selectively kills KRAS and BRAF mutant colorectal cancer cells by targeting GAPDH. Science. Published online on 5 November 2015. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5004
Written by Ana Victoria Pilar, PhD