The University of Otago and Christchurch researchers are coming together to study whether intravenous infusions of vitamin c could be a life-saving treatment for patients with sepsis.
In the Christchurch, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Anitra Carr associate professor recently started the New Zealand-first study. It follows small clinical trials overseas that reported an almost 80% drop in mortality from the life-threatening condition.
The results from using the natural product as a medicine were considered by many to be too good to be true, so the Christchurch project will rigorously test these findings.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection where the body’s response own response to infection actually damages its tissues and organs. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body.
Associate professor Carr says,”sepsis is the main cause of death in the ICU. It causes the death of one in five New Zealand ICU patients. Although rates are increasing treatment options are limited.”
Septic shock patients are often given drugs to stabilize their cardiovascular function. Associate Professor Carr hypothesises that cardiac dysfunction, and resulting drug treatments, could be avoided if patients have appropriate vitamin C levels. When sepsis patients experience cardiac problems, they are often given drugs to stimulate the cardiovascular system. Vitamin C is potentially involved in a similar natural process, and if levels were high enough patients might not need as much medication, she says.
The team of Christchurch research will study whether people with sepsis who get the vitamin to are more likely to survive and have a better recovery than those who get conventional treatment. The group of patients who get vitamin C will also get conventional treatments.
Associate Professor Carr with her team will also study whether the patient’s bass level vitamin C level relate to the severity of their disease and progression of sepsis.
Their effort of study is funded by the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation & the Health Research Council.