Chemicals found in coffee could be used to manufacture remedies for insomnia and heart disease, according to a group of scientists at Vanderbilt University.

The scientists have focused on chlorogenic acids, and it is believed that these substances offset coffee's other stimulant ingredient, caffeine. Some of these influence the body's adenosine chemical, which controls the rate that nerves transmit nervous messages. While caffeine blocks the action of adenosine by causing the heart to pound, chlorogenic acid increases the levels of adenosine by preventing its re-absorption by the body.

Others act as antioxidants in clearing away the destructive free radicals that add to the development of heart disease.

Professor Peter Martin, who led the scientists, revealed that much more work is necessary before new drugs become available. He explained: "We will be synthesising these compounds in coffee and chemically modifying them with the aim of accentuating certain actions."