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Synthetic cocoa chemical slows growth of tumors in human cell lines
Date:6/13/2008

Washington, D.C. A synthetic chemical based on a compound found in cocoa beans slowed growth and accelerated destruction of human tumors in laboratory studies, and should be tested further for cancer chemoprevention or even treatment, say researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center.

"We have all heard that eating chocolate is good for you; this study suggests one reason why that might be true," says the study's lead author Min Kim, Ph.D., a research scientist in the Department of Oncology at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Published online today in Cell Cycle, the researchers describe how four different human tumor cells lines out of 16 tested were sensitive to the chemical, known as GECGC. The strongest response was seen in two different colon cancers; growth was cut in half and most of the tumor cells were damaged.

Normal cells were not affected by GECGC, which makes the chemical a candidate for cancer chemoprevention, says Kim.

"This chemical seems to be safe, which makes sense because it has a structure similar to a natural product in cocoa beans - the same beans that are used to make chocolate," he says.

The researchers have long studied the beneficial effects of flavanols, which are molecules in vegetables and fruits that exhibit potent anti-oxidant and, potentially, anti-tumor properties. As part of these studies, investigators have been testing a new synthetic version of natural procyanidins, a class of flavanols, created and patented by the confectionery company, Mars Incorporated. (The company provided GECGC as a gift, and this project was funded in part by Mars Incorporated.)

In these studies, the scientists tested the effects of three different doses of GECGC on the cancer cell lines - the first time that a synthetic cocoa derivative has been used to screen human cancer cell lines. None of the doses tested were extreme, Kim points out. "The effective concentrations were considere
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
414-312-7085
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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