Vitamin C research is not bad science
Ben Goldacre describes one of my papers of a research study evaluating the anti-HIV action of vitamin C, and labels it as “bad science” as it was a laboratory study and it had nothing to do with AZT (Bad science, January 6). That is an unfortunate categorisation.
Laboratory studies are necessary prior to treating HIV in humans as they provide a rationale for clinical evaluation. It seems that the author was looking for a study comparing vitamin C with AZT and found an incorrect reference that evaluated only vitamin C. I should like to point out that subsequent to that first report, we published two successive papers that compared the anti-HIV effects of vitamin C to AZT. Both studies showed that whereas vitamin C suppressed HIV activation in latently or chronically-infected cells, AZT had no significant anti-HIV effect.
Our results on AZT were consistent with an independent report from another laboratory that also showed AZT to be ineffective in suppressing HIV expression in chronically-infected cells.
Simply because vitamin C has not been tested in humans, does not make vitamin C research a bad science. In fact, the reasons one would perform a clinical study are apparent in the above laboratory studies which have provided a compelling rationale for such testing. However, since vitamin C is a simple, inexpensive nutrient and not a drug with profit-generating potential, there has been little interest in testing it clinically. This is unfortunate as it keeps a potential non-toxic treatment from being further evaluated against a deadly life-threatening disease.
California Institute for Medical Research, San Jose