ROK scientists: caffeine slows brain cancer growth

16:29, February 02, 2010      

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Caffeine found in coffee and green tea could effectively slow the growth of brain cancer tumors, a group of scientists at the (South) Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) said Monday.

According to the neural science research department at KIST, led by Lee Chang-joon, animal test results showed regular caffeine found in coffee and green tea to have strongly repressed the growth of inositol trisphosphate receptor (IP3R) closely associated with glioblastoma, which is the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumor found in human.

The research institute said calcium plays a primary role in spreading glioblastoma tumor cells in humans, and that IP3R directly contributes to the amount of calcium released.

The KIST added that they discovered a sub-type of IP3R, or IP3R3, to be very active among brain cancer patients and that caffeine stymies the spread of such compounds, resulting in less tumor growth in the brain and blocks cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.

"This is the first type of discovery showing caffeine to have an inhibitive effect on the growth of glioblastoma, and thus, we expect it to have monumental impact on related studies," said Lee, who led the research team.

The amounts of caffeine used in the animal tests were somewhere in the range of two to five cups of coffee or green tea consumed on average by humans per day, KIST added.

It is extremely difficult to treat glioblastoma, KIST said, as the tumor cells are very resistant to other conventional therapies and anti-cancer drugs, and as a result, most patients die within a year of being diagnosed.

The research team, comprising of scientists from Seoul National University, Gyeongsang National University, and Emory University in Atlanta, also published their discovery in the latest issue of U.S.-based Cancer Research Journal.

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