Could Vitamin C Help Fight Tuberculosis?
A new study suggests that a low-cost nutrient could help drugs fight tuberculosis more effectively.
The study found that anti-tuberculosis drugs killed more bacteria in laboratory mice when the mice received vitamin C.
The authors say the findings could offer a low-cost, safe way to reduce the long treatment time for one of the world's deadliest diseases. They also say the vitamin supplement could offer a way to fight tuberculosis that is resistant to antibiotic drugs.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The World Health Organization says 1.7 million people died of the disease last year. About 600,000 cases were resistant to the leading drug out of more than 10 million new infections.
Antibiotic drugs attack TB bacteria, but a small number survive by going dormant. If the patient stops taking the drug too soon, these dormant bacteria increase and the patient gets TB again. However, the new infection often is resistant to the drug.
Current TB treatment takes six months, largely to ensure the dormant bacteria die. But it is hard for patients to continue treatment for so long.
William Jacobs is a microbiologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Jacobs and other researchers discovered by accident that antioxidants, like vitamin C, stopped tuberculosis bacteria in a test tube from becoming dormant
"When we first discovered it, it was like, 'Wow! There's just so much we don't know yet. And wouldn't that be really cool if it really works," Jacobs said.
The study was published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
Jacobs and other researchers treated TB-infected mice with two standard drugs in the study.
One group of mice received a large amount of vitamin C. A second group did not.
The researchers found that the mice treated with vitamin C had about ten times fewer bacteria in their lungs after several weeks than mice treated with drugs alone.
"It's not sterilization yet," he added, "but it's heading in that direction."
However, the researchers have not carried out a similar test on humans.
"The bottom line is that we don't know the answer," Jacobs said. "But I think what this study suggests is we should really go and find out."
Other experts not connected to the study agreed.
There has been very little research on vitamin C and TB. However, it is "a safe compound, it's widely available, it's inexpensive," noted David Alland. He is associate dean of clinical research at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
"I think that when we have those kinds of options to look at, we should look at them without having to spend decades trying to figure out exactly how they work."
If the vitamin C treatment works, Alland said it would increase the effectiveness of the drug at very little cost. "You'd get a big bang for your buck," he said.
I'm Susan Shand.
1.long treatment 长期治疗
If you have a long treatment period, this risk in absolute numbers is low.
2.connected to 与...有关
The dispute is not directly connected to the negotiations.
3.find out 查明
I hope we can find out about it.
4.carried out 实施；进行
Forensic experts carried out a painstaking search of the debris.
5."The bottom line is that we don't know the answer," Jacobs said.
the bottom line 主要；关键
The bottom line is that it's not profitable
The bottom line is that it did not get the best out of everybody.
6.I think that when we have those kinds of options to look at, we should look at them without having to spend decades trying to figure out exactly how they work.
figure out 弄清楚
I simply couldn't figure out his intention.
No one could figure out how he got to be so wealthy.
作者表示，该研究结果能够为全球最致命疾病（结核病）提供一种低成本、安全的途径并缩短长期治疗的时间 。他们还指出，这种维生素补充剂能够抵抗对抗生素药物产生耐药性的结核病 。
结核病（TB）是全球主要的死亡原因之一 。世界卫生组织表示，去年170万人死于结核病 。在1000多万的新感染病例中，约60万例对主要治疗药物产生了耐药性 。
抗生素类药物可杀死结核杆菌，不过一小部分细菌会潜伏在体内 。如果患者过早停用药物，这些细菌就会繁殖，患者将再次感染结核病 。然而，新出现的感染往往对药物产生耐药性 。
目前的结核病治疗需要6个月，主要是为了确保潜伏的细菌死亡 。但是，患者很难连续接受长期治疗 。
威廉·雅各布斯（William Jacobs）是纽约阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦医学院的微生物学家 。他和其他研究人员偶然发现，维生素C等抗氧化剂可以阻止试管中的结核菌进入潜伏状态 。
“我们第一次发现时，‘哇！真是大千世界无奇不有 。如果（维生素C）真的奏效，那岂不是完美！”雅各布斯说道 。
“关键是我们不知道答案，”雅各布斯说 。“我认为，这项研究表明，我们真的应该尝试一下 。”
大卫·艾伦指出，关于维生素C与结核病的研究屈指可数 。不过，维生素C是“一种广泛使用的安全化合物，而且物美价廉” 。他是罗格斯新泽西医学院临床研究的副院长 。
艾伦表示，如果维生素C的治疗有效，那么可以用极低成本提高药物的有效性 。“何乐而不为呢？”他说道 。