IOWA CITY, Iowa, (CBS2/FOX28) — Researchers at the University of Iowa's Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center say vitamin C could be key in enhancing treatment options for several cancers. The team has been looking into how effective Vitamin C through an IV is in aiding treatments for lung, pancreatic, and an form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme. A $9.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute is helping fund more research.
"Pancreatic cancers -- for a certain subset of patients -- less than 3% of the patients survive 5 years. In lung cancer, it's less than 20% and in glioblastoma I think the average survival is 12-14 months," said Dr. Joseph Cullen the professor of surgery at the University of Iowa.
It's these numbers that begged the question for Dr. Cullen and the team more than a decade ago: what cane make treatment options more effective? Their answer came in the form of intravenous vitamin C.
"The combination of vitamin c with chemotherapy drugs or with radiation therapy will synergize and kill the tumor cells even more," said Dr. Cullen.
The team says taking vitamin C by the mouth isn't effective because the 500 milligram capsules don't compare from their dosage of 100 grams. Right now the team is in phase two of the clinical trial, using it with some radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments for patients.
"In a subset of pancreatic cancer, we have two long-term survivors in this," said Dr. Cullen.
With funding from the grant, the team plans to use their dosage when treating more patients who apply.