An artificial sweetner once considered to be a possible carcinogen, may actually be able to help fight aggressive cancers.
The sugar replacement saccharin bind onto and deactivates a protein that helps cancer grow and spread without harming the surrounding healthy tissue.
Saccharin is the main ingredient in Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin and Necta.
The finding was presented at the 249th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Study examined how saccharin binds to and deactivates carbonic anhydrase IX. Anhydrase IX I a protein found in some very exceptionally aggressive cancers, it is one of the many driving factors in the growth and spread of multiple cancers.
Except for in the gastrointestinal tract, carbonic anhydrase IX is not normally found in healthy human cells. Therefore, this makes it a prime target for anti-cancer drugs that would cause little to no side effects to the surrounding healthy tissue.
This protein is very similar to other proteins that the body needs to work properly. So far researchers have been unable to find a substance that only affects the cancerous protein and not the necessary proteins, until saccharin, which ironically was once considered a possible carcinogen.
Researchers made this finding and built upon it by creating a compound in which a molecule of glucose was chemically linked to saccharin. This small change reduced eh amount of saccharin needed to inhibit carbonic anhydrase IX and made the compound 1,000 more likely to bind to the enzyme than saccharin alone.
According to the American Chemical Society, learning how to turn off the protein “carbonic anhydrase IX” may lead to way to stop the spread of breast cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, pancreas cancer, brain cancer and lung cancer.