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From the Townsend Letter
August/September 2014

Intravenous Ascorbate in the Treatment of Ovarian Cancer
The Work of Jeanne Drisko, MD and Qi Chen, PhD
Based on interviews with Nancy Faass
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The Research Agenda
The primary roadblock to integrative medicine research today is funding. We are not going to see the exciting breakthroughs we know are possible until federal agencies like the NIH and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine find a way to fund the research more fully. That must be done if we are going to get the attention of our conventional colleagues and change their current mindset. I see the greatest potential at the intersection between integrative and conventional medicine, with the two groups working together to determine the most effective approaches to the research.

There has been some progress over the years in academic institutions, in their leadership, and among the journal editors. Although they are not embracing integrative medicine whole-heartedly, they are very interested in how an integrative approach can be helpful in the management of chronic disease. The real change I see is in the medical students. This next generation of healthcare practitioners is so enthusiastic, and their ideas are so exceptional, I feel honored to work with them. They tend to be attracted to core disciplines within medicine, such as internal medicine, pediatrics, and nutrition, so I am hopeful that in the future, integrative medicine is not going to be separate, it will simply be standard medicine.

Outcomes and Impact
Survival – Of 22 individuals in the final study group, those receiving chemotherapy plus intravenous ascorbate had time-to-disease progress delayed for 8.75 months compared to those receiving chemotherapy alone (25.5 months compared with 16.75 months) based on five-year follow-up data.
Destruction of cancer cells – In cell culture studies of seven different ovarian cancer cell lines, all of the cell lines exposed to ascorbate were destroyed by the exposure.

Reduction in tumor weight – Ascorbate reduced tumor weight by approximately 32%, whereas chemotherapy (carboplatin) reduced weight approximately 56%. Carboplatin in combination with ascorbate caused on average 86% reduction in tumor weight in an animal model.
DNA damage to tumor cells – Ascorbate damaged DNA of approximately 36% of cancer cells, compared with 11% impact or less by chemotherapy agents (in a cell model).

Severity of DNA damage – In dosing with ascorbate and three chemotherapeutic agents, in nine different combinations, only the presence of ascorbate correlated with grade 3 and 4 toxicity to cancer DNA.

Reductions in cancer cell ATP – In some cancer cell lines but not normal cells, ascorbate resulted in greater than 50% reduction in cellular ATP within an hour.

Toxicity – Ascorbate was notable for decreases in toxicity resulting from chemotherapy in all physiologic systems, with some reductions as great as 33%.

Trends in the study outcomes, extrapolated from the raw data.

Jeanne Drisko, MDJeanne Drisko, MD
Dr. Drisko is Director of the Kansas University Integrative Medicine Center, the Riordan Endowed Professor of Orthomolecular Medicine, and full-time faculty at the University of Kansas, School of Medicine (KUMC). In addition to patient care, research, and teaching, Dr. Drisko has worked closely with Kansas legislators and the Kansas Medical Society to develop and pass legislation and public policy in the area of naturopathic practice. She has served as President and as Program Director of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), is a faculty member of the Institute for Functional Medicine, advisory board member for the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, and board member of the Alliance for Natural Health.

Qi Chen, PhD


Qi Chen, PhD

Dr. Chen has served as a researcher and an Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas Medical School for more than five years. Trained at Sun Yat-Sen University in China , she also served as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health for more than four years performing cancer research.



Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Kansas
The objective of the Integrative Medicine fellowship is to create practitioners who are knowledgeable enough regarding integrative care to function as skilled advisers to patients and as collaborative members of multidisciplinary and integrative patient care teams. The fellowship provides a year's intensive exploration of clinical, educational, and research activities related to integrative medicine for MDs or DOs who have satisfactorily completed their residency training.

We are also planning to offer an online fellowship for MDs, DOs, naturopaths, nutritionists, dieticians, and pharmacists that will include on-site visits at the university. For additional information, contact:
Integrative Medicine Center
University of Kansas Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, Kansas 66160
913-588-5000 | 913-588-7963 TDD

Infusion therapy. Organizations that provide training in infusion therapy include the American College for Advancement in Medicine and organizations within the naturopathic community such as Bastyr University. The Integrative Medicine Center at KU has a written infusion protocol, available at no charge to licensed physicians if requested on their letterhead.

Chelation therapy. Training and protocols are available through the International College of Integrative Medicine and the American College for Advancement in Medicine. For additional information see:

Editorial and Interview
Nancy Faass, MSW, MPH, is a writer and editor in San Francisco who supports authors in their publishing endeavors, including books, articles, white papers, and writing for the Web. For more information, contact

Technical Consultant
Jerry Stine, NC, Director of the Lifespan Institute, with 20 years of experience in Functional Nutrition, biochemistry, ketogenic diets, and anti-aging therapies. Specializing in phone consultations – 415-883-9033.

Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, Polireddy K, Drisko J, Chen Q. High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. 5 February 2014;6(222):ra18

Chen Q, Espey MG, Sun AY, et al. Ascorbate in pharmacologic concentrations selectively generates ascorbate radical and hydrogen peroxide in extracellular fluid in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007; 104(21):8749-8754. PMCID: PMC1885574

Chen Q, Espey MG, Sun AY, et al. Pharmacologic doses of ascorbate act as a prooxidant and decrease growth of aggressive tumor xenografts in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 August 12;105(32):11105–11109.

Chen Q, Espey MG, Krishna MC, et al. Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: Action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005 September 20;102(38):13604–13609.

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