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Ascorbic Acid in Cancer Chemoprevention: Translational Perspectives and Efficacy

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Chemoprevention, which is referred to as the use of nontoxic natural or synthetic chemicals to intervene in multistage carcinogenesis has since decades attracted a considerable interest in plant-derived chemical constituents often termed as “phytochemicals” or sometimes as “Nutraceuticals” in case they are derived from dietary sources. A comprehensive search of the literature show that such an interest in natural product pharmacology has surged in the last 25 years and particularly risen at exponential rates since the last one decade. Phytochemicals such as curcumin (from spice turmeric), resveratrol (from red wine) and genistein (from soy) share the major efforts as indicated by overwhelming publications, despite skepticism concerning their bioavailability. Ascorbic acid (AA), the popular anti-oxidant in fruits and vegetables, has even a longer historical perspective than these dietary agents as for more than 35 years; there had been lingering questions about the efficacy of AA in cancer therapy. The footprints of AA from “scurvy” to “cancer” though complex seems to carry potential provided the puzzle could be set right. The use of AA in cancer treatment has been debated extensively as evident from the literature but surprisingly the complementing early phase bench work on the mechanistic studies for anticancer action was rather retarded. Proposed mechanisms of action for AA in the prevention and treatment of cancer includes antioxidant as well as pro-oxidant properties, stimulation of the immune system, altering carcinogen metabolism, enhancement of collagen synthesis necessary for tumor encapsulation and interference with cancer cell signaling. The observation that the intravenous administration of AA enhances its bioavailability to the extent of deriving pharmacological benefits against cancer has in recent years partially supported the clinical plausibility (efficacy) of AA towards realizing its translational advantage. Here, we provide an overview of AA with regard to its potential in the management of cancer disease.
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Keywords: Ascorbic acid; chemoprevention; phytochemicals

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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