Cancer is the leading cause of mortality in the world, killing close to 9 million every year. Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, it begins by the development of cancerous cells in one site of the body and then begin to multiply at a manic pace. Once the disease progresses, it starts devouring the healthy cells in the body and outnumbering them. These cells are so powerful that after a momentarily halt they become drug resistant and start progressing again.
Experts at the University of Salford, UK have found a novel way to kill these cancerous cells and stop them from becoming drug resistant. According to a study published in journal Oncotarge, a combination of vitamin C and antibiotics may be up to 100 times more effective at killing cancer cells than standard drugs.
The antibiotic, doxycycline, followed by doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), were surprisingly effective in killing the cancer stem cells under laboratory conditions. Vitamin C was found to be up to ten times more effective at stopping cancer cell growth than pharmaceuticals. When combined with an antibiotic, vitamin C can be up to ten times more effective in killing cancer cells – nearly 100 times more effective than a drug called 2-DG.
Cancer cells are pretty efficient in switching their fuel source, this combination approach prevents cancer cells from changing their diet (metabolically inflexible), and effectively starves them, by preventing them from using any other available types of bio-fuels.
“Vitamin C behaves as an inhibitor of glycolysis, which fuels energy production in mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell,” said Federica Sotgia, co-author of the study published in the journal Oncotarget.
The team also identified eight other drugs that could be used as a “second-punch” after the antibiotic regime, including berberine (a natural product) and a number of cheap non-toxic approved drugs.
Cancer research remains highly underfunded all across the globe. In such circumstances, similar studies provide a promising future to the development of advanced cancer treatments. Further trials are called for to study the combination therapy in detail.