Gold and Caffeine: How this Combination can Help in the Fight Against Cancer

First Posted: Feb 26, 2014 11:28 AM EST

Too much of anything isn't good for you, and this certainly applies to caffeine. Restlessness, increased heart rate, trouble sleeping-they all can be a nasty side-effect of too much coffee, soda or tea. Yet a recent study shows a surprising side to this stimulant. That it may actually have the power to help kill cancer cells. According to researchers, combining a caffeine-based compound with a small amount of gold could potentially work as an anticancer agent.

Colleagues Angela Casini, Michel Picquet and other researchers note, via a press release, that caffeine and other products containing the stimulant have recently been put in the spotlight as anticancer treatments. Yet the researchers stress that caffeine alone is not the solution. For instance, caffeine drinks may start to have negative effects on healthy cells in large quantities.

Gold on the other hand can also wipe out cancer cells, yet unlike caffeine, it can also harm healthy ones. Therefore, the research team decided to combine the two into certain configurations and see whether the caffeine-based gold compounds could work to stop cancer cells from growing meanwhile without harming other cells.

Together, the researchers created a series of seven new compounds known as caffeine-based gold (I) N-heterocyclic carbenes in the laboratory and studied them. They found that certain concentrations selectively killed human ovarian cancer cells without harming healthy cells. They also completed a compound that targets a type of DNA architecture known as "G-quadruplex" that's associated with cancer.

What do you think?

More information regarding the study can be found via the journal Inorganic Chemistry

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