Red Hot Cancer Killing Chili Peppers

Researchers seek to determine how compound from chili peppers kills prostate cancer cells.

Researchers seek to determine how compound from chili peppers kills prostate cancer cells.

A compound derived from chili peppers may eventually by utilized in a new therapeutic form following recent research published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

Investigators evaluated the compound capsaicin, which is responsible for the heat from chili peppers, and is commonly used in pain relieving creams. Additionally, prior studies have found that high doses of capsaicin can kill prostate cancer cells.

For the current study, researchers worked to determine how the substance works. Approximately a decade ago, it was discovered that capsaicin can kill prostate cancer cells in mice without affecting healthy cells.

However, for that dose to translate to treatment in humans it requires eating a huge number of chili peppers each day, the study noted. As a result, investigators sought to evaluate how capsaicin works in order to transform it into an effective drug in injectable or pill form.

The study revealed how the molecule binds to the surface of cells to impact the membrane that surrounds and protects the cell. Researchers determined how the compound interacts with cell membranes by monitoring its natural fluorescence.

The researchers found that capsaicin lodges near surface membranes. In high enough quantities, capsaicin basically causes the membranes to come apart.

Researchers are hopeful that continuing work can eventually lead to the production of new treatments that fight cancer and other conditions.