October 31, 2016 • 2 Min

Using a Vitamin to Make Low-Dose Chemotherapy More Effective

Four transparent oblong orange pills and five round white pills on an orange background

YuMaNuMa; Flickr

Can high doses of vitamin C make a low-dose combination of chemotherapy drugs work better for patients with advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer?

Vitamin C has been observed to be active against cancer, particularly when given with chemotherapy drugs. In this clinical trial researchers want to see if high doses of the vitamin make low-dose chemotherapy more effective.

Chemotherapy With and Without Vitamin C

All trial participants will receive the chemotherapy combination G-FLIP followed by G-FLIP-DM. Some participants will be randomly assigned to get high doses of vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) as well. The drugs in G-FLIP affect different aspects of tumor growth, and so work together against the cancer. They are given in lower-than-usual doses to minimize their toxic effects.

The G-FLIP Combination

G-FLIP consists of G (gemcitabine), F (fluorouracil), L (leucovorin), I (irinotecan), and P (oxaliplatin, a platinum compound). Gemcitabine is converted into two metabolites that cause cell death. One reduces the number of proteins available to make DNA; the other shortens the DNA strands. Fluorouracil (5-FU) is an antimetabolite that disrupts a specific part of the cell replication cycle. Derived from folic acid, leucovorin enhances the effects of 5-FU. Irinotecan inhibits the copying of DNA when cells copy themselves, and so interferes with cell growth. Oxaliplatin disrupts DNA and kills cancer cells.

G-FLIP-DM adds low doses of chemotherapy drugs docetaxel and mitomycin C. Docetaxel works against tumor formation by encouraging cell death, and mitomycin C makes the cancer cell’s DNA stick together so the cell cannot divide and the cancer cannot grow.

We encourage you to consult your physicians for clinical trials that may be right for you. The website provides more details about this trial as well as many others. You can visit the EmergingMed Trial Finder for a listing of all active pancreatic cancer clinical trials.

This study is now complete. You can find other vitamin trials in the Vitamins Research topic.

Help me find a pancreatic cancer expert near me.

Learn more