Dr. Channing Paller, an Assistant Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, focuses on translational research and clinical trials of developmental therapeutics in prostate and other solid tumors.
She is keenly interested in the rigorous evaluation of natural products in cancer treatment.
Prostatepedia spoke to her about her Prostate Cancer Foundation instigated and Marcus Foundation funded clinical trial on combining intravenous Vitamin C with Taxotere (docetaxel).
Dr. Channing Paller: One of my interests is studying natural products that people take as dietary supplements. We don’t know whether they work or whether they cause harm, so I test them. Several of my clinical trials study these compounds rigorously in a placebo-controlled fashion, as we would with any cancer treatment.
I knew about a recent randomized study of high dose intravenous ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in ovarian cancer patients, which showed that ascorbic acid treatment combined with standard chemotherapy reduced toxicities from the chemotherapy and also trended towards improved overall survival. Vitamin C enabled the patients to receive more cycles of chemotherapy, and that was associated with longer overall survival.
In response to the findings in ovarian cancer, the Prostate Cancer Foundation sent out a request for proposals for early stage research on vitamin C’s role in treating prostate cancer. We decided to initiate a large (60 patient) placebo-controlled trial with co-primary endpoints of quality of life and cancer response to the combination of intravenous (IV) vitamin C and chemotherapy. We are extremely grateful to the Marcus Foundation for supporting the trial.
We chose Taxotere (docetaxel) because it was first line and an easy place to start to answer the question. Jevtana (cabazitaxel) would have worked just as well.
What can patients expect to happen during the trial?
Dr. Paller: We are conducting a randomized placebo-controlled Phase II trial of standard-of-care Taxotere (docetaxel) for metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer with either ascorbic acid or placebo, which is electrolytes and hydration, given twice a week in between the cycles of chemotherapy every three weeks. Some people say that this is too big a commitment, so they get to take breaks if needed. They can miss a session or two here or there. They can even take two weeks’ break, if needed. We’re trying to help people live better, not chain them to the clinic.