Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Vitamin C can kill drug-resistant TB, researchers find

Date:
May 21, 2013
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Summary:
In a striking, unexpected discovery, researchers have determined that vitamin C kills drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in laboratory culture. The finding suggests that vitamin C added to existing TB drugs could shorten TB therapy, and it highlights a new area for drug design.

In a striking, unexpected discovery, researchers have determined that vitamin C kills drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in laboratory culture.
Credit: © akesak / Fotolia

In a striking, unexpected discovery, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have determined that vitamin C kills drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in laboratory culture. The finding suggests that vitamin C added to existing TB drugs could shorten TB therapy, and it highlights a new area for drug design.

The study was published today in the online journal Nature Communications.

TB is caused by infection with the bacterium M. tuberculosis. In 2011, TB sickened some 8.7 million people and took some 1.4 million lives, according to the World Health Organization. Infections that fail to respond to TB drugs are a growing problem: About 650,000 people worldwide now have multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), 9 percent of whom have extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).TB is especially acute in low and middle income countries, which account for more than 95 percent of TB-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The Einstein discovery arose during research into how TB bacteria become resistant to isoniazid, a potent first-line TB drug. The lead investigator and senior author of the study was William Jacobs, Jr. Ph.D., professor of microbiology & immunology and of genetics at Einstein. Dr. Jacobs is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a recently elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Jacobs and his colleagues observed that isoniazid-resistant TB bacteria were deficient in a molecule called mycothiol. "We hypothesized that TB bacteria that can't make mycothiol might contain more cysteine, an amino acid," said Dr. Jacobs. "So, we predicted that if we added isoniazid and cysteine to isoniazid-sensitive M. tuberculosis in culture, the bacteria would develop resistance. Instead, we ended up killing off the culture -- something totally unexpected."

The Einstein team suspected that cysteine was helping to kill TB bacteria by acting as a "reducing agent" that triggers the production of reactive oxygen species (sometimes called free radicals), which can damage DNA.

"To test this hypothesis, we repeated the experiment using isoniazid and a different reducing agent -- vitamin C," said Dr. Jacobs. "The combination of isoniazid and vitamin C sterilized the M. tuberculosis culture. We were then amazed to discover that vitamin C by itself not only sterilized the drug-susceptible TB, but also sterilized MDR-TB and XDR-TB strains."

To justify testing vitamin C in a clinical trial, Dr. Jacobs needed to find the molecular mechanism by which vitamin C exerted its lethal effect. More research produced the answer: Vitamin C induced what is known as a Fenton reaction, causing iron to react with other molecules to create reactive oxygen species that kill the TB bacteria.

"We don't know whether vitamin C will work in humans, but we now have a rational basis for doing a clinical trial," said Dr. Jacobs. "It also helps that we know vitamin C is inexpensive, widely available and very safe to use. At the very least, this work shows us a new mechanism that we can exploit to attack TB."

The study was supported by a grant (AI26170) from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Catherine Vilchθze, Travis Hartman, Brian Weinrick, William R. Jacobs. Mycobacterium tuberculosis is extraordinarily sensitive to killing by a vitamin C-induced Fenton reaction. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2898

Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. "Vitamin C can kill drug-resistant TB, researchers find." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121219.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. (2013, May 21). Vitamin C can kill drug-resistant TB, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121219.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. "Vitamin C can kill drug-resistant TB, researchers find." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121219.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins