Scientists have found a way to make green tea extract effective at shrinking cancerous tumours.
A green tea extract could shrink cancerous tumours
Green tea has long been suspected of having anti-cancer properties. An extract from the plant, called epigallocatechin gallate, has been investigated numerous times for its potential use in cancer treatment.
Previous attempts at shrinking tumours with epigallocatechin gallate have failed because scientists used intravenous drips to deliver it. When it’s administered intravenously, the extract goes everywhere in the body, so when it gets to the tumours it’s too diluted.
However, a team of scientists at the University of Strathclyde have now developed a ‘target delivery system’ to get the extract directly to the tumours without any effect on normal tissue.
Writing in the journal Nanomedicine, the scientists used the fact that tumours have receptors for transferrin, a plasma protein which transports iron through the blood.
By ‘piggy-backing’ the green tea extract onto this plasma protein, the tumour ends up consuming it as well.
A lab test on one type of human cancer showed that 40 per cent of tumours disappeared after just a month of treatment, and an additional 30 per cent shrank.
Dr Christine Dufès, a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, who led the research, said: “These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments.
“When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumours every day, in some cases removing them altogether.
"By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumours continued to grow.
“This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries.”
Scientists say that the “ultimate objective” is a clinical trial in humans, but this could still be a long way off.
© ActiveQuote Health Ltd. 2012