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Scientists Find Vitamin C Kills Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the if-only-we-could-get-vitamin-C-into-common-foods dept.

Medicine 105

AndyKrish writes "A BBC story reports that scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University found Vitamin C kills drug resistant tuberculosis (abstract). Though results are preliminary — the lead investigator of the study said, 'We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals' — this is an exciting development in the fight against drug-resistant TB."

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Vitamin C... (5, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#43797261)

Somewhere in heaven, Linus Pauling [wikipedia.org] is laughing his head off...

Re:Vitamin C... (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#43797311)

I was about to comment the same... With an "aPauling" pun. ;-)

Really, this will likely be quickly quashed by the Pharmas. Or they will patent a delivery transport - with the only FDA-approved administration protocol.

Re:Vitamin C... (4, Insightful)

D1G1T (1136467) | about a year ago | (#43797463)

Seeing as how most TB is in places where FDA has no jurisdiction, I don't think that will be a problem.

Re:Vitamin C... (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43797563)

I was about to comment the same... With an "aPauling" pun. ;-)

Really, this will likely be quickly quashed by the Pharmas. Or they will patent a delivery transport - with the only FDA-approved administration protocol.

"Hey, that guy's holding an assault orange!

GIT 'EM!"

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43797763)

I was about to comment the same... With an "aPauling" pun. ;-)

Really, this will likely be quickly quashed by the Pharmas. Or they will patent a delivery transport - with the only FDA-approved administration protocol.

Unless the delivery transport makes a clinically relevant difference(in which case it would be as deserving of a patent as any medical innovation), how would patenting a transport help them?

Vitamin C is easily available in a number of flavors, some not by prescription, some of the more injectable ones possibly prescription only, and any doctor authorized to prescribe anything can 'off label' pretty much anything that won't either have the DEA on his ass or get his malpractice insurer to cancel his policy...

Re:Vitamin C... (2)

idontgno (624372) | about a year ago | (#43798131)

Whether GP was joking or not, you have to wonder if the pharmas won't try something analogous to clawing public domain works back under copyright. Which, as any dipshit can tell you, should never happen. Except it does. [nytimes.com]

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43800611)

Whether GP was joking or not, you have to wonder if the pharmas won't try something analogous to clawing public domain works back under copyright. Which, as any dipshit can tell you, should never happen. Except it does. [nytimes.com]

I'm sure that they'd love to(though TB is kind of a lousy disease as ROI potential goes. Virtually all the cases are in poor or marginal populations, so the customers tend to have only enough money to sporadically take drugs and develop resistant strains, and the first-world high rollers are negligible. Also, because the morbidity and mortality are so significant in poor countries, and the public health concern over drug resistance so great, a new TB drug would be an attractive target for generic production under the authorization of various uppity countries who don't understand that obeying American IP law is more important than their citizens' lives*shakes head*), I'm just not sure that they'd achieve much traction in a case like this. Unless therapeutic use does require some genuinely novel tweaks, the fact that synthesized vitamin C was big news in the early 1930s, and research on dietary sources was largely nailed down in the days when keeping the sailors on your man-o'-war from dying was important national security stuff, will probably mount a fairly stiff prior-art challenge.

Re:Vitamin C... (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43798361)

He's just suffering from an overdose of Vitamin C-ynical.

Re:Vitamin C... (5, Interesting)

Bowling Moses (591924) | about a year ago | (#43797831)

"Really, this will likely be quickly quashed by the Pharmas. Or they will patent a delivery transport - with the only FDA-approved administration protocol."

Those actions are pretty much diametrically opposed. Option one, quash something that's already known presumably by managing to get a hold of the IP (good luck) and then sitting on it for years using a minimum of effort and cost. Option two, take something that works only on tuberculosis culture, do the R&D to make it work in humans, get it through clinical trials, then manufacture it and try to make a profit. Tuberculosis is a grand master at hide and go seek. It lives inside of human cells part of the time so delivering the vitamin C/vitamin C derivative is non-trivial. Even for a pathogen hanging out nekkid in the bloodstream the delivery of the drug to its target is non-trivial, 10 years and $1 billion of R&D is the rule of thumb to get to FDA approval from early stage research.

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43798233)

How do you quash a publicly known vitamin?

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

budgenator (254554) | about a year ago | (#43798769)

My dandruff shampoo, Nizoral [wikipedia.org] ,is not FDA approved to regrow hair in humans, but that doesn't mean I'm shaving off those un-approved hairs that are regrow on my bald spot. Also since vitamin C has a long history of being recognized to aid the body's fighting of infections, I doubt this could be patented.

Re:Vitamin C... (2)

tloh (451585) | about a year ago | (#43797479)

Lets not be too smug just yet. Once upon a time I, too, was a Pauling groupie. But good science stands up to scrutiny. Very smart people will be looking this over and asking tough questions. Lets wait a bit before we all jump for joy and contemplate the "C" word.

Re:Vitamin C... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797551)

Thank you.

Pauling pulled his opinions out of his quite educated ass - he did not have any evidence; just a hunch. And he may be right by shear luck.

Faith healers, Mormons and other kooks for years have said smoking was "bad for you". Did they have evidence? No. They said it was bad because people got pleasure from it.

They lucked out and it turned out to be true.

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43798293)

Faith healers, Mormons and other kooks for years have said smoking was "bad for you". Did they have evidence?

Yes. Smokers' Cough has been around ever since there have been smokers. It has very clearly been bad for your health long before anyone knew of any ties to cancer.

Re:Vitamin C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43801829)

Imagine that...taking some weeds (or weed, what have you) drying them, rolling them in paper and tar, gluing the entire thing together, lighting one end of it on fire, and sucking on the other end, is bad for your health!

Sometimes the human race is so blindingly stupid it makes my brain hurt.

Re:Vitamin C... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797573)

Well, to be fair, most organisms in a test tube can be killed by putting in a lot of acid (vitamin C being ascorbic acid). The key thing is that you can't significantly change the pH of the blood / body without causing problems in the host. It is easy to kill shit in a test tube.

Re:Vitamin C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797849)

It's also not that hard to change body PH by diet. It's even noticeable when you have sex with another partner who has a different PH.

The dip shit corps don't want you to understand this simple fact though. Enjoy your "can't fix it" attitude.

Re:Vitamin C... (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43798067)

It's even noticeable when you have sex with another partner who has a different PH.

I can only imagine the blank looks on the faces of Slashdot users reading that sentence.

Re:Vitamin C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43798523)

> I can only imagine the blank looks on the faces of Slashdot users reading that sentence.

First time I went down on a girl I was surprised to discover it was a little bit like licking a (dead) 9-volt battery. Turned out she had an exceptionally low pH level (high acidity).

Re:Vitamin C... (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43799575)

First time I went down on a girl I was surprised to discover it was a little bit like licking a (dead) 9-volt battery. Turned out she had an exceptionally low pH level (high acidity).

You know how you can power a clock with a potato? I wonder...

Re:Vitamin C... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43801151)

Gynaecologist: That's unusual, piles normally occur in the back passage.
Patient: No problem, it's powering my iPod.

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43798063)

The key thing is that you can't significantly change the pH of the blood / body without causing problems in the host.

Well, basically, here you're just reiterating your former point that anything can be killed by using enough acid. :-)

Re:Vitamin C... (2)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#43798585)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22614522 [bbc.co.uk]

Lead investigator Dr William Jacobs, professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, said: "We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals.

Re:Vitamin C... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43798659)

Well, to be fair, most organisms in a test tube can be killed by putting in a lot of acid (vitamin C being ascorbic acid)

Actually, just vitamin C is Ascorbate.

Ascorbate by itself is relatively unstable. Adding a hydrogen atom stabilizes it and makes it Ascorbic Acid which is probably the most common form of vitamin C.

But you can add other atoms to it like Calcium, Sodium or Magnesium, which would make non-acidic, but still bioactive, forms of vitamin C.

Re:Vitamin C... (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43797715)

Lots of stuff kills cells in a dish. Until they demonstrate this in vivo, it's not even worth discussing.

We know who is not going to like this. (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#43797283)

....Guess!

Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough doses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797285)

by oral ingestion, the death is mechanical, not chemical.

Re:Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough dos (2)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43797439)

the death is mechanical, not chemical.

The only thing you could possibly mean is a pill so large that it blocks the airway. Otherwise, chemical.

Re:Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough dos (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43797613)

That, or a pill encased in a jagged metal O.

Re:Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough dos (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#43797691)

That, or a pill encased in a jagged metal O.

Ah, you mean Krusty O's. My favourite breakfast cereal.

Re:Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough dos (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43797875)

"a pill so large that it blocks the airway" like an orange.

Re:Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough dos (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43798241)

But that's not a very large dose of Vitamin C. But a whole bag of oranges might count - much harder to choke on whole, though.

That's true of everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797601)

To quote Paracelsus "it's the dose that makes the poison"

Re:Vitamin C kills humans too. In large enough dos (2)

sarkeizen (106737) | about a year ago | (#43798129)

LD50 for ascorbic acid in rats: 11900 mg/kg That's an insane amount and impossible to ingest for the vast majority of folk.

"More research needed." (5, Informative)

spamchang (302052) | about a year ago | (#43797295)

No context given in the article, but here's the abstract:

"Drugs that kill tuberculosis more quickly could shorten chemotherapy significantly. In Escherichia coli, a common mechanism of cell death by bactericidal antibiotics involves the generation of highly reactive hydroxyl radicals via the Fenton reaction. Here we show that vitamin C, a compound known to drive the Fenton reaction, sterilizes cultures of drug-susceptible and drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. While M. tuberculosis is highly susceptible to killing by vitamin C, other Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens are not. The bactericidal activity of vitamin C against M. tuberculosis is dependent on high ferrous ion levels and reactive oxygen species production, and causes a pleiotropic effect affecting several biological processes. This study enlightens the possible benefits of adding vitamin C to an anti-tuberculosis regimen and suggests that the development of drugs that generate high oxidative burst could be of great use in tuberculosis treatment."

So you need ferrous ions as well. Interesting things to have in your lungs, but it's a start.

Re:"More research needed." (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797355)

eat a lot of liver then take a massive dose of C, that should do it....

Re:"More research needed." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797947)

eat a lot of liver then take a massive dose of C

Or, have hemachromatosis [wikipedia.org] and take a dose of vitamin C anytime.

Re:"More research needed." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43800385)

This sort of reminds me of how arteminisin works against malaria by reacting with iron in the pathogen to create free radicals damaging the organism to the point of killing it. I had read that arteminisin was not effective against TB but I wonder if it could be attached to some sort of trojan horse molecule to achieve the same result.

Start infecting the animals! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797299)

Sadly, thousands of animals will be infected with, and die from TB so that the drug companies can profit from a cure.

Re:Start infecting the animals! (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43797321)

You mean so many humans don't have to.

Re:Start infecting the animals! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43798823)

Here's a solution. If you don't want to see the animals suffer, you do it. You and everyone who thinks like you can go ahead and die from TB so that other people can live without having to let the animals suffer. Isn't that worth the drug companies profiting from a cure? It's certainly far nobler than sitting back and ignorantly proclaiming the animals are the TB sufferers we need to worry about.

Of course.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797325)

There are probably tons of human safe substances that will kill tuberculosis in a test tube. I see zero chance of this working in vivo.

Seriously? This was on House years and years ago (4, Informative)

enigmatic (122657) | about a year ago | (#43797353)

So.. Did someone just catch up on the later seasons?

Re:Seriously? This was on House years and years ag (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43797673)

Probably the same researchers who recently discovered that babies learn through mimicry...

(Can't remember if I saw that one on Slashdot or Yahoo)

Re:Seriously? This was on House years and years ag (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43797685)

Wasn't that polio, not TB? I haven't watched House in years. And it was a hoax even in the episode.

What? (2)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#43797389)

Why are researchers wasting time with non patentable medicine? This is madness!

It's patentable! (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43799517)

$something_obvious "in a test tube!"

acidic solution kills bacteria (3, Funny)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43797391)

and bears shit in the woods. story at 10

Re:acidic solution kills bacteria (2, Funny)

leathered (780018) | about a year ago | (#43797599)

By that logic the deoxyribonucleic acid in every bacterium should kill them off before they get a chance to multiply.

Oh, and H. Pylori [wikipedia.org] would like a word with you.

Re:acidic solution kills bacteria (3, Informative)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43798117)

no, we're talking of a foreign acidic solution in unnatural concentration being harmful to certain bacteria

Vitamin C Resistance (1, Insightful)

Continental Drift (262986) | about a year ago | (#43797421)

Even if it works, in short order we'll have vitamin C resistant tuberculosis. Next up, miracle cure X, and cure X resistant tuberculosis. I'm all for miracle cures, but let's keep in mind that all viruses and parasites mutate to deal with our cures.

Re:Vitamin C Resistance (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43798357)

Possibly.

You're aware that Vitamin C occurs entirely naturally though, right?

Something developing a resistance to a vitamin is not as serious in terms of health as it would be if it developed resistance to a man-made treatment.

Re:Vitamin C Resistance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43802283)

this isn't something genetic though, Its alot harder to evolve out a necessary biochemical pathway then a protein that antibodies key to. even if it does work, it would make the resulting tuberculosis not be able to perform as effeciently

C as in Citric Acid (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#43797483)

Yes, if you use enough acid it will kill just about anything.

Who knew. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797495)

Proper nutrition prevents disease. Stop the presses.

In related news... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43797499)

... it appears that boiling and/or roasting the sample also kills Drug-Resistant TB. However, researchers caution that:

We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals ...

Acid kills, so what? (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43797519)

Vitamin C is ascorbic acid and is used as a preservative in foodstuff for a reason (with the added bonus of not counting as preservative and sounding healthy enough to even advertise it on the packaging).

Well, maybe this is too simple. But many of these test tube results prove to be pretty meaningless because getting up to the needed concentrations in a living patient would kill him faster than the actual illness.

Too much hype on preliminary study (3, Interesting)

raynet (51803) | about a year ago | (#43797523)

Sigh, it is almost too easy to kill stuff in test tube, HIV can be killed with garlic. It is quite rare to get it to work in a living being. Unfortunately this article will bring out the anti-vaccers, germ theory deniers and other woowoo people out of the woodworks...

Really?!?! (1, Funny)

freeze128 (544774) | about a year ago | (#43797539)

Albert Einstein College of Medicine? I don't think medicine is what that guy is famous for.... That's almost like winning the Adolf Hitler humanitarian award.

Re: Really?!?! (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about a year ago | (#43797605)

Hehe. This genuinely made me lol.

Re:Really?!?! (2)

bigredradio (631970) | about a year ago | (#43797643)

You mean like the Alfred Nobel PEACE prize?

Re:Really?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797861)

No, because in both cases there's a direct link between both subjects, unlike Albert Einstein and Medicine.

- Hitler was a terrible humanitarian in every way possible.
- Nobel invented dynamite and was his generation's Man Who Invents Something to Finally Make War Too Terrible to Go On (But Not Really) and created the Peace Prize in reaction to a scathing obituary calling him a "merchant of death" released when his death was falsely rumored when he realized what his legacy would truly be.

So in other words, you all fail at analogies. It would actually be more like the Louis Pasteur School of Economics or the Jackson Pollock Institute for Internet Pettifoggery.

Re:Really?!?! (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43798107)

Hitler was a terrible humanitarian in every way possible.

Oh come on, don't take a cursory and superficial view of history and its villains. Even a person guilty of leading crimes against humanity such as Hitler also led humanitarian efforts for certain groups of people.

  Hitler and his government had many humanitarian contributions especially to factory workers. Workers rights and groups to oversee them, standard workweek with overtime, sanitary and cafeteria facilities in factories,

The "Mother and Child" organization was formed to provide for the welfare, health, safety, financial security with over 26,000 local centers.

He promoted government programs targeting young people to refrain from alcohol and instead focus on healthy eating, drinking mineral water and exercise.

Re:Really?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43802927)

Fair enough -- I kind of blew that one off without doing the cursory research first.
Thank you for the catch.

Re:Really?!?! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43798059)

In case other readers didn't understand the humor, Alfred Nobel [wikipedia.org] invented dynamite and other explosives. That's why a peace prize in his name may sound funny and contradictory.

Re:Really?!?! (3, Informative)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about a year ago | (#43798281)

But he didn't invent it for warfare, he invented it to make mining easier, once he saw that people would use his invention for warfare he was horrified and thus invented the peace price.

Re:Really?!?! (1)

lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) | about a year ago | (#43801113)

But he didn't invent it for warfare, he invented it to make mining easier, once he saw that people would use his invention for warfare he was horrified and thus invented the peace price.

That's giving Alfred Nobel too much credit. He owned the world renowned arms manufacturer Bofors and actually changed the company more towards arms manufacture than before. It wasn't until a French paper erroneously printed his obituary where he as lambasted as a "merchant of death", that he became concerned with his legacy. (If I remember correctly his peace prize was added at a later date to his will, there was also a woman involved, isn't there always?).

So no, he was about as far from a long haired hippie as can be. He didn't mind if people killed each other as long as they bought their guns and explosives from him. While he didn't originally develop dynamite for the military market, when he realised that's where big money could be made he didn't waste any time working that market.

Re:Really?!?! (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about a year ago | (#43797913)

you're a fucking moron.

Re:Really?!?! (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | about a year ago | (#43799791)

The story goes like this:
The founders wanted Dr Einsteins name, so several professors and big shots ($) wen to see albert, who was at Princeton
Founders: Dr Einstein, we would like to name our new medical school after you
AE: well, I'm not sure...I'm not a doctor
Founders: well, we could name it after pasteur
AE: what does Pasteur have to do with a jewish school (AECOM is legal subsidiary of Yeshiva University)
Founders: well, in taht case, how about W Harvey
AE: but he is british
Founders: well the, we will go with Dr Schmorekin
AE (looking puzzled), you know, I don't think I have ever heard of this doctor Schmorekin...are you sure people will know what your school is about ?
founders (triumphantly) : you know doctor einstien, with your name, no one will ever ask that...
AE, laughing, ok then , you have my blessing

during the mc carthy era, AECOM hired many leftists, and they also hired many woman, eg, as the story goes, Ora Rosen graduated 1st in her class at columbia medical school, and no one would hire her except AECOM

Albert Einstein, well known for contributions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43797591)

Anyone else think that the name "Albert Einstein" should have been reserved for physics, not medicine?

Re:Albert Einstein, well known for contributions.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43799549)

From Wikipedia:

Yeshiva University President Dr. Samuel Belkin began planning for a new medical school as early as 1945. Six years later, Dr. Belkin and New York City Mayor Vincent Impellitteri entered into an agreement to begin construction. At the same time, world-renowned physicist and humanitarian Albert Einstein sent a letter to Dr. Belkin. He remarked that such an endeavor would be “unique” in that the school would “welcome students of all creeds and races.”[7] Two years later, on his 74th birthday, March 14, 1953, Albert Einstein agreed to attach his name to the medical school.

Fire also kills drug resistant tuberculosis..... (4, Insightful)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#43797597)

....in a test tube.

Subject goes here. Not half your post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43798259)

Works great for killing tuberculosis in humans too.

I'll put my post... (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#43800117)

...where I see fit.

It does have some mild side effects in vivo though.

Re:Fire also kills drug resistant tuberculosis.... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43799503)

I think you've just found the next fad in the patent market....

Doing "X" "in a test tube" instead of "on a computer."

What?? FTA (3, Interesting)

bjdevil66 (583941) | about a year ago | (#43797709)

"An estimated 650,000 people worldwide have multidrug-resistant TB..."

So, every one of those 650,000 people aren't drinking enough orange juice?

"We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals."

Oh, ok. When they come up with a Vitamin C IV drip cocktail or an inhaler/vaporizer that when used it kills TB and actually cures someone, then that will be news. Until then, we can at least look on the bright side: You can't hurt yourself by taking too much Vitamin C nearly as easily as you can with others like Vitamin A, etc. Someone out there is gonna hear that "Vitamin C kills TB" on the interwebs and OD on it, sooner or later.

Re:What?? FTA (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#43798003)

Someone out there is gonna hear that "Vitamin C kills TB" on the interwebs and OD on it, sooner or later.

ODing on vitamin C would take some doing. The predicted LD50 is about 12 grams per kilogram. You'd be more likely to die from choking on it than from ODing on it.

Re:What?? FTA (2)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about a year ago | (#43798543)

ODing on Vitamin C is not the problem, it's the rebound scurvy that you get after taking high doses of Vitamin C and then stopping. Scurvy is nasty stuff. Read up on it.

Re:What?? FTA (1)

Rosyna (80334) | about a year ago | (#43801077)

ODing on Vitamin C is not the problem.

It's quite the problem and quite difficult. When the human body has too much vitamin C, it starts getting rid of the excess through anal leakage.

Anal leakage, ftw!

Re:What?? FTA (1)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#43798089)

So, every one of those 650,000 people aren't drinking enough orange juice?

Sure, why not? Pretending that drinking enough OJ will cure or prevent TB for the moment, it's possible that there would have been many more people with multidrug-resistant TB, but a glass of tasty juice stopped those other cases cold.

I get the incredulity, but 650,000 doesn't seem so big when you consider the population of the entire world.

Re:What?? FTA (2)

dublin (31215) | about a year ago | (#43798333)

So, every one of those 650,000 people aren't drinking enough orange juice?

No, the reality is far, far worse than that - roughly *none* of the humans (or guinea pigs, oddly enough) currently living on this planet gets enough vitamin C.

All humans carry a genetic defect that cripples the mechanism nearly all other mammals use to synthesize vitamin C. I'm not in favor of genetic engineering of humans, but this is the thing that brings me closest to backing the concept.

A "homo sapiens ascorbicus" would be a real blast from the past...

Re:What?? FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43798467)

I'm not in favor of genetic engineering of humans, but this is the thing that brings me closest to backing the concept.

A "homo sapiens ascorbicus" would be a real blast from the past...

Soylent Orange Juice?

With or without pulp?

Re:What?? FTA (1)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#43799095)

Please define "enough."

I was under the impression that I get way more than "enough" vitamin C just by eating an American diet. In particular, preserved foods often contain it on purpose (ascorbic acid is an extremely common preservative).

Re:What?? FTA (2)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | about a year ago | (#43799765)

our species has been evolving for what - the last million or so years without a functional gene for synthesis of Vit C ?
if you now re introduce that gene, what will happen ?
perhaps we have evolved to deal wit low levels of vitamin c, and having high, continuous levels would now be toxic....aside from the fact that we don't really know how to do safe genetic engineering in humans yet (I assert this...google R Young white head)

Re:What?? FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43799465)

When they come up with a Vitamin C IV drip cocktail or an inhaler/vaporizer that when used it kills TB and actually cures someone, then that will be news.

Since a high-potency IV using Sodium Ascorbate is cheap and almost trivial to make [orthomed.com] and fairly non-toxic, that should be fairly easy to test.

Don't count on any pharmaceutical company to test it though.

Re:What?? FTA (1)

LF11 (18760) | about a year ago | (#43799683)

Vitamin C IVs are well known and used. The practical upper limit for oral vitamin C is somewhere around 10-15 grams for an average adult. Why? You get the shits like crazy. IV vitamin C is a little different, and you can actually administer much higher doses by bypassing the gut.

LF

Dr. Fred Klenner cured polio with Vitamin C (1)

dublin (31215) | about a year ago | (#43798115)

Although it's little-known outside orthomolecular medicine circles (Linus Pauling and Albert Szent-Györgyi (the discoverer of the Vitamin C/Krebs cycle) were two prominent members of the orthomolecular medicine community), Dr. Fred Klenner [doctoryourself.com] successfully cured several many polio patients in the late '40s and early '50s, using megadoses of acsorbic acid (nominally the same as vitamin C). A good number of these were advanced enough that they should have died or at the very least been crippled for life by the disease.

Because Klenner was only a backwoods Southern doctor, his remarkable success was largely overlooked for many years. (He wrote his experiences up and had them published as an article titled ‘Virus Pneumonia and Its Treatment with Vitamin C’ in the Journal of Southern Medicine and Surgery . This was followed up by many other articles over the years, mostly on megavitamin therapy for a variety of diseases, including tuberculosis and multiple sclerosis.

Google for the details - you'll be amazed...

Re:Dr. Fred Klenner cured polio with Vitamin C (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about a year ago | (#43798757)

Another reference, to Boissevin and Sillane, dates back to 1937.

Re:Dr. Fred Klenner cured polio with Vitamin C (3, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | about a year ago | (#43799755)

When I was a graduate student in a molecular biology program in the late 80s or early 90s, i heard, in person, Linus talk
the professors at my institution were pretty sarcastic, but one thing linus said stuck in my brain:

I take 10 grams a day, because if you look at how much vitamin C is in the blood of our closest animal relatives, chimps and gorillas, a human would need to take 10 grams a day to get the same level in the blood...but don't buy it from the drugstore , it is very exspensive, i buy it in 10 pound drums from a chemical company in cleveland OH (or maybe Akron)

of course, humans and guinea pigs are very unsusal in that they require vitamin c in the diet; almost all other mammals can make their own.

Re:Dr. Fred Klenner cured polio with Vitamin C (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43800041)

Liposomal vitamin C is a more interesting form, as it absorbs much better in the bloodstream and there isn't really an upper tolerance like there is for Vitamin C. There's very preliminary research on it, but it's pretty interesting stuff.

Re:Dr. Fred Klenner cured polio with Vitamin C (2)

jw3 (99683) | about a year ago | (#43801207)

The problem is that anything above 400mg / day gets quickly removed from our organism. So no, we are not chimps (and btw, chimps also can't synthesise vitamin C naturally), and our organisms know pretty well how much vitamin C is needed.

Pauling specifically believed that overdose of vitamin C can prevent cancer. It was a very interesting hypothesis, and it was very important to test it. However, several large prospective studies undertaken in the 80's have, unfortunately for all of us, falsified that claim.

Klenner's observations from the 30's-50's have also not been confirmed by any kind of systematic study.

Re:Dr. Fred Klenner cured polio with Vitamin C (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43802291)

we were discussing this the other day at lunch, and a back of the envelope calculation suggested Pauling took about 60 kg of vitamin C during his lifetime. if you compare that to the 10 kg tubs of Urea or Tris we keep in our lab, 60 mg ends up being around a large garbage bag filled with it.

I take 6 grams a day (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#43798229)

Three 2 gram doses before meals.

It's anecdotal, but I haven't been sick for more than 36 hours in 20 years (half my life, no cold or flu), but only taking C and other supplements for the past few years. Since having children I have gotten short sicknesses more often, but that's because they incubate the stuff and pass on heavy doses to me (in my opinion).

I also have to mention that I got sick a lot as a young kid (flu and other nasal related infections). That's probably the reason my immune system is what it is.

But the C can't hurt, except for some stomach problems at particularly high doses (greater than 10 grams if you aren't used to it).

Re:I take 6 grams a day (3, Informative)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about a year ago | (#43798775)

Large doses, particularly ascorbic acid, may promote diarrhea. Non-acidic forms like calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate, and ascorbyl palmitate, are more tolerable. YMMV.

Re:I take 6 grams a day (2)

dalias (1978986) | about a year ago | (#43800121)

It should be noted that doses this high will have a (possibly wanted or unwanted) contraceptive effect by early miscarriage, so women wanting to become or remain pregnant should not take such doses.

Re:I take 6 grams a day (3, Informative)

jw3 (99683) | about a year ago | (#43801171)

6000 mg vitamin C daily, not counting vitamin C in the food? That is a lot. Consult your physician and be very, very cautious about suggesting medical advice if you are not prepared to take moral and financial responsibility for it. Yes, vitamin C is important. Yes, increased intake of vitamin C has been show to have several health benefits, including reduced stroke and cardiovascular disease risks, especially in smokers. However, "increased intake" means "well below 1g/day".

6000 is 30-100 times the recommended daily dose. Although studies indicate that vitamin C intake at 2-4 g/day may not have large adverse effects (1), one has to be extremely cautious when recommending supplementing your diet by a 100x of a daily dose. The fact that you don't experience any adverse effects such as kidney stones (at least yet) does not mean that a person reading your comment will not suffer from that either.

Apart from the problems with the digestive tract, vitamin C can hamper endurance in physical exercises (2). Moreover, vitamin C not used by the organism (which requires as little as 100-200mg / day) is excreted (3). For that, it is metabolised to oxalic acid, which in turn can cause kidney stones (4 and the references therein). So yes, although problems with vit. C overdose do not seem to be common and are not comparable to overdoses of some other vitamins, at 6g/d saying that "C can't hurt" is very risky (especially as supplements can contain other vitamins as well, and the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can cause severe adverse effects -- vitamine poisoning -- when overdosed).

The highest risk-free level of daily intake for vitamine C has been recently proposed to be 1000 mg (1g) (5, 6). People, before you install some shady software someone recommends at a biology-oriented website, ask your IT friend for advice. Before your follow medical advice from Slashdot, consult your physician.

"Rational by choice."

Prove it. Read the evidence based medical studies rather than trusting and spreading anecdotes.

(1) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-4887.1999.tb06926.x/abstract [wiley.com]
(2) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/1/142.short [nutrition.org]
(3) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/69/6/1086.short [nutrition.org]
(4) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2362.1998.00349.x/full [wiley.com]
(5) http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=189543 [jamanetwork.com]
(6) http://www.pnas.org/content/93/8/3704.short [pnas.org]

what is it about biotech and biology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43799493)

that brings out the worst gee whiz flying car never dull razor 200 mpg carburetor mentality in slashdot ?
Hydroxyl radicals are HIGHLY toxic to all living things
eg, here is ferrous ion and oxygen species killing nerve like cells
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11495352

and, uh,like a problem for the lungs where TB is
In groundwater and anaerobic surface waters, within the pH range of natural waters, iron is present in the reduced state, ferrous, Fe +2, in its soluble forms. When such waters are exposed to air so that oxygen can enter or an oxidizing agent such as chlorine is introduced, the ferrous iron is converted into the oxidized form of iron, ferric, Fe +3. These waters become turbid and highly unacceptable from the aesthetic point of view due to the oxidation of iron and the formation of colloidal precipitates.

and, uh, like free iron is in very , very low conc in normal tissues - as a matter of fact, bacteria which live in humans have to go to extra ordinary lengths to get iron, cause it is all sequesterd by the body (S aureous siderophore etc)

Oxydative stress (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43799613)

If I understand correctly, they use vitamin C as a catalyst on iron to create an intense oxydative stress. If that is the way used to destroy a pathogen, I believe it would also destroy patient's cells if used in vivo.

Why is M.tb. a problem and other clarifications (4, Informative)

jw3 (99683) | about a year ago | (#43800529)

Mtb is an intracellular pathogen. It invades our cells, the very same cells that are supposed to kill bacteria (the macrophages). This is why treatment of TB takes six months. Vitamin C, at a dosage lethal for Mtb as described in the article, cannot be used to kill the bacteria in our cells. The importance of the article is that it identifies a potentially intereseting difference between Mtb and other bacteria.

As for vitamin C, this is not some kind of a miraculous drug; it is just a co-enzyme required for a few particular reactions in our metabolic pathways. We, humans, are mutants, we lack the ability to synthetise vitamin C -- along with our cousins, the monkeys, although most animals do synthetise it on their own. Lack of vitamin C impedes the metabolism. However, only little of the co-enzyme is needed, and once vitamin C is no longer a limiting factor, it has barely an effect.

Think about that in terms of a network. If your wireless router is extremely slow, buying a new one will increase the speed of your connection. But what good is a super fast wifi router, if the outgoing connection runs at 10Mbit?

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and this is why some people (quite incorrectly) think that taking large doses of vitamin C are beneficial. However, there are two forms of this compound, L-ascorbate (vitamin C) and D-ascorbate; both are antioxidative, but only one is a co-enzyme. D-ascorbate, however, shows no beneficial effects.

Big pharma has not much interest in preventing the use of vitamin C in Mtb treatment. Mtb drugs are cheap, generic, and effective; the main reason why Mtb is a problem for much of the world is lack of fast and cheap diagnostic tools. You see, 2 billions (2e9, one third of worlds population) are infected with Mtb, and of these, only 10% will develop tuberculosis during their lifetime. However, we don't know which, why, and when. Also, when a person falls ill, it is not a quick process like a flu; rather than that, a person starts feeling unwell, caughing and becomes infectious over weeks before she finally decides to see a doctor. Here is a review article I wrote on TB and biomarkers: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23181737 [nih.gov] (full text behind a paywall, unfortunately).

Pauling believed that taking large doses of vitamines will prevent cancer and took large amounts of vitamin C throughout his life. In 1994, he died of prostate cancer.

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