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Vitamin C can be effective against the TB bacterium

By Tim Sandle     May 24, 2013 in Science
Researchers have determined that vitamin C kills drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in laboratory culture. The finding could lead to new treatments.
Tuberculosis is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis may infect any part of the body, but most commonly occurs in the lungs. Globally, tuberculosis is the second most common cause of death from infectious disease (after those due to HIV/AIDS).
The potency of vitamin C was discovered by accident for the researchers were experimenting to see why the bacterium that causes tuberculosis was resistant to certain drugs. When they used one of the base component of vitamin C (cysteine) they unexpected killed the bacteria.
The researchers have speculated that cysteine oxidizes and destroys bacterial DNA.
This finding suggests that vitamin C added to existing TB drugs could shorten TB therapy, and it highlights a new area for drug design. It should be pointed out, however, that the findings so far are based only on bacteria in test tubes. It is not known if the consumption of Vitamin C (or more specialized targeting) would have the same effect.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. Vitamin C refers to a number of vitamers that have vitamin C activity in animals. Vitamin C is essential to a healthy diet; vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells, and is consumed quickly during infections.
The research was undertaken at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. The paper is titled “Mycobacterium tuberculosis is extraordinarily sensitive to killing by a vitamin C-induced Fenton reaction”.
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