Nadine Hempel, PhD
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Pre-clinical Investigation of High Dose Ascorbate IP Therapy
High dose of Ascorbate, or Vitamin C, administered through the bloodstream has been suggested to have anti-tumor properties when given in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. This concomitant treatment strategy has shown promise in early clinical trials of ovarian cancer. When administered intravenously, a much higher concentration of ascorbate can reach the tumor than is possible if taken orally. The highly concentrated ascorbate causes reactive oxygen molecules to form and build up in the tumor cells, and these reactive oxygen species are the principal mediator of DNA and protein damage in cells. Their accumulation can lead to cell death, particularly when concurrently exposed to chemotherapy. Dr. Hempel proposes that ovarian cancer cells may be especially sensitive to ascorbate treatment because they contain higher levels of reactive oxygen precursors already, and the treatment will have a cascading effect turning all of these molecules into the harmful reactive species. Furthermore, the environment surrounding ovarian tumors may be conducive to this therapy because the balance of molecules in the fluid of the abdominal cavity makes it easier for the reactive oxygen molecules to form inside of the cancer cells. Dr. Hempel and colleagues will determine if ovarian cancer is indeed a good candidate for ascorbate combination therapy. The results of their work will inform the development of a clinical trial in late stage ovarian cancer patients.