JUN 16, 2017 6:07 AM PDT

Vitamin C & Antibiotics: A Potent Duo Against Cancer?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Over the years, vitamin C has become synonymous with health, vigor, and vitality. Now the compound, in combination with an antibiotic, has been shown to be effective at killing cancer stem cells. The discovery shines a new light on vitamin C and its cancer-killing potential.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Vitamin C has a long record with the medical community. In 1753, the compound was shown to ward off scurvy – a condition that was common among sailors at the time. Since then, vitamin C was purported to be effective against viruses like the common cold and the flu. Moreover, this compound has also been explored as an anticancer agent for several types of cancer, including colon cancer and leukemia.

But targeting cancer stem cells with vitamin C has never been attempted before. Similar to healthy stem cells, cancer stem cells  have the capacity to self-renew and differentiate into many other cell types. In the case of cancer stem cells, however, the result could be new tumor formation, metastasis, and drug resistance. "Therefore, new therapeutic strategies are necessary to identify and eradicate CSCs," the authors wrote in their study, published in the journal Oncotarget.

In the current study, the researchers are expanding on one of their previous findings - that vitamin C alone was able to kill cancer stem cells. Now, they’re testing whether this cancer-killing potential can be augmented with the addition of doxycycline, a common antibiotic.

Indeed, the team found that the vitamin C plus antibiotic combination was 100 times more effective at killing cancer stem cells than 2-DG, a drug under clinical trial to treat cancer. This is about 10 times more potent than treating the cancer cells with vitamin C alone.

The researchers hypothesize that the antibiotic stymied the cancer’s ability to switch fuels for energy. That is, without “metabolic flexibility,” as induced by the doxycycline, the cancer cells had to rely solely on glucose for survival. Then, they hypothesize that vitamin C acted as a “second punch,” and removed the source of glucose, which starved the cancer cells.

"In this scenario, vitamin C behaves as an inhibitor of glycolysis, which fuels energy production in mitochondria, the 'powerhouse' of the cell," said Dr. Federica Sotgia, a study co-author.

"This is further evidence that vitamin C and other non-toxic compounds may have a role to play in the fight against cancer," said Dr. Lisanti. "Our results indicate it is a promising agent for clinical trials, and as an add-on to more conventional therapies, to prevent tumor recurrence, further disease progression, and metastasis."

Additional source: MNT

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAR 23, 2020
Cancer
MAR 23, 2020
An Alternative Use for Common Kidney Cancer Drug to Fight Against Epithelial Ovarian Cancer
Axitinib is a small molecule drug that inhibits VEGFR tyrosine kinases 1, 2, and 3. Shown previously to potentially prev ...
APR 24, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
APR 24, 2020
Drug Targets Hard To Treat Uterine Cancer
A clinical trial was deemed successful when evaluating a therapeutic for a hard-to-treat form of uterine cancer. The dru ...
MAY 14, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 14, 2020
New Tech Has Its AI on Brain Tumors
  A collaboration across 29 research and healthcare agencies is putting together the world’s largest brain tu ...
MAY 23, 2020
Cancer
MAY 23, 2020
A New Biomarker to Identify a Triple Negative Breast Cancer Prognosis
Breast cancer, one of the most common cancers in the world, are commonly separated into one of several sub-types. These ...
MAY 25, 2020
Cancer
MAY 25, 2020
Using Transcription Factors to Predict Bladder Cancer Prognosis
Bladder cancer is a rare form of cancer, with a relatively high recovery rate. Recurrence is still an issue; however, wi ...
MAY 28, 2020
Cancer
MAY 28, 2020
The Oncogenic Hazard of a Potential Alzheimer's Treatment
Breast cancer remains one of the most common cancers around the world. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is a sub-typ ...
Loading Comments...