Certain blood cancers, like acute and chronic leukaemia, consists of mutations from a gene called TET2. TET2 helps a type of stem cell to mature properly to make white blood cells and dies after. But when this gene mutates, the cells start to divide nonstop which would lead to cancer. This problem impacts 42,500 people in the US a year.
To find some sort of cure, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine have genetically engineered mice to have variable TET2 function. With this, they found that only a 50 percent reduction of the activity of TET2 is enough to cause cancer. “If we genetically restore TET2, it blocks unhealthy replication and kills the cells,” says Luisa Cimmino from the New York University School of Medicine.
They then injected mice with low TET2 activity very high doses of vitamin c every day for 24 weeks. This is known to affect embryonic stem cells that can activate TET2 and monitors cell replication.
Results showed that indeed this can slow down the development of leukaemia. Those that didn’t receive any injections also had three times as many white blood cells, which is a signal for pre-leukaemia. Researchers also compared cancer drug and vitamin c's effectiveness on a petri dish full of human leukaemia cells. The results? The vitamin c won (had better effect).
Benjamin Neel, one of the co-authors of the study, hopes that vitamin c could soon be mixed with cancer therapies. Most people that have myeloid leukaemia are often old and may die from chemotherapy. Vitamin c mixed with cancer drugs may result to a different and more helpful way of healing.
However, a large dose of the vitamin c could also be dangerous, says Neel. The genetically modified mice in the experiment got 100 mgs of vitamin c--the human equivalent of around two oranges. And the body stops taking in vitamin c after 500 mgs so any therapies would require the vitamin to be administered intravenously. “You can’t get the levels of it necessary to achieve the effects in this study by eating oranges,” he says.
Also, a lot of vitamin c would mess up your kidneys, right? Hope they'll be able to confirm this study on humans and find a better approach suited for our body.
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