Scientists Considering Caffeine As An Alternative Chemotherapy Treatment

CaffeineFollowing a previous study, which showed that caffeine inhibits the pathways in cancer cells that control DNA repair, scientists at the University of Alberta are searching for new ways to apply caffeine’s deadly effects on cancer cells. Zintro experts discuss the possibility of using caffeine as an effective targeted chemotherapy treatment for cancers with specific genetic changes.

According to Rita Kelley, an expert in global marketing and business development, the result of the most recent study conducted by the Alberta research group is a true testament to the perseverance of oncology research. “There has been no confirmatory data that ascertains the true benefit or lack thereof of caffeine in the apoptosis or control of cancer cells. While it has been shown that caffeine intake may provide some benefit in certain types of cancer such as melanoma, there have been other studies in different cancers that show deleterious effects,” notes Kelley. “Cancer cells are masters at circumventing detection and destruction, however every inroad made adds to the current understanding and awareness on how to complete the puzzle. Chemotherapy is still a cornerstone of cancer treatment, and now with the increasing validation of targeted therapies, perhaps the Alberta research will generate new hypothesis that lead to additional breakthrough therapies.”

Torik Ayoubi, an expert in gene expression and biomarker analysis, is also skeptical of this new research. “Decades of research have not shown unambiguous effects of caffeine on cancer and even if one or two studies do find such results, they should be considered chance effects as the level of confidence in most studies is just 95%. There are hundreds of novel approaches and drugs being developed, in which huge opportunities are arising in combining the patient’s genotype and the response to therapy using pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine,” Ayoubi explains. “More effort should be spent on why so many drugs work in only a fraction of patients and trying to figure out how to treat every patient individually. Caffeine does not kill cancer cells in human beings.”

Biomedical Engineer, Gareth Hughes on the other hand, considers caffeine as a potential cancer therapy. “Inhibiting DNA repair pathways in tumor cells is a growing area of interest in oncology given the potential of therapies with lower toxicity in comparison to standard chemotherapies, which affect proliferating cells, cancerous or healthy. While caffeine was observed to inhibit DNA repair over 30 years ago, the challenge has been to deliver enough caffeine to produce a desired therapeutic effect and not have the patient go into caffeine shock or overdose,” notes Hughes. “By targeting cancer cells that have specific mutations related to DNA repair, the researchers at University of Alberta could be on track to develop a potent, but relatively safe, cancer therapy.”

By Idil Kan


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