VCU Health – Using Vitamin C to Help Combat Sepsis

If you can imagine two fully loaded 747’s crashing everyday. That’s how many people die in this country annually. Sepsis is the response that people have throughout the body whenwhen infection with germs or viruses or fungus es occur. And depending upon the prior sickness of a patient, the likelihood of dying is very high. They are very, very sick. Well, always they are on a ventilatorThey’re not conscious, their families are very concerned and their likelihood of survival is in the balance. We got to the airport to pick her up. She said, boy I can’t catch my breathAnd we knew from talking to her while she was in Italy the family she was staying with had a cold. And I just remember feeling – like after you’ve run for a really long time and you struggle to catch your breath,You feel like that. Except there’s something like physically blocking you from taking a deep breath. We got to the urgent care and I was filling out two forms and they came out and told mewe’ve already called 911, we’re taking her to the hospital. We get to the local hospital, they tell us that her blood oxygen level is way too lowThey put her in ICUAnd about 10 years ago my colleagues and I began doing some pre clinical work with vitamin CAnd the work that’s been done in this laboratory by Dr. Ramesh NatarajanHas shown that Vitamin C when it gets to very high plasma levelsIs very potently anti inflammatorySo when we started our studies we worked with a whole range of doses ranging from 50 milligramsto 150 milligrams. And studies done at NIH in the 2000’s show that you have to give it intravenouslyfor it to act as a drug and not as a vitamin. Miraculously they called VCU. . . they told us they needed to put her on this special ECMO machineso then they started putting her on the ECMO machine and these huge doses of vitamin CAnd you literally could see every day her chest x-rays just getting better and better and better. Vitamin C can improve water clearance from the lungs. It can reduce inflammation by taking awayproteins that drive these inflammatory factors in the body when there is sepsis. And it also prevented multiple organ injury in our pre clinical models. I would like to emphasize that we have been working on this for a period of 10 years. And if vitamin C after a randomized, placebo controlled, blinded trial turns out to be successful,then this therapy which will save lives across the world will have been invented at VCU. If we come up with a way of treating a patient and we have somebody like a Dr. Fowler who can trust youand move that, translate that bench research to a patient and you actually see it saves patient lives,There is nothing better in research than saving patient’s lives. I think about two weeks after or so, I went and got my lungs tested – like how much air they could holdthe pulmonologist said they looked great. There wasn’t any scaring they could see on x-rays or anything. They looked fine. I think my body knows that something went on in a hospitalmy brain I don’t think can really. . . doesn’t want to remember it. But, I wanted to meet the people who saved my life. It was exciting to meet them.

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