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Green tea compounds could shape new tumour drugs

By Colin Ricketts - 16 Aug 2011 16:29:0 GMT
Green tea compounds could shape new tumour drugs

A nice cup of tea could be more than a refreshing brew according to new research from America which could open up doors for new drugs using chemical compounds found in green tea to treat tumours and a genetic disease.

The results of the research, led by Dr Thomas Smith of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, are published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The focus of the research is glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH). This substance is found in every living thing and is used to digest the amino acids found in all proteins.

Complex systems in animal metabolism regulate GDH's action and, in humans, when this regulation goes wrong the results can be deadly, causing the disease hyperinsulinism or hyperammonemia (HHS).

Plants don't have any such regulation and finding out why helped the researchers to isolate two compounds in green tea which can turn off the GDH system. These compounds could form the basis for new drugs to tackle HSS having been found to have an effect when taken orally.

The green tea compounds' action on GDH also make it an effective treatment for two types of tumours: glioblastomas, an aggressive brain tumour, and tuberous sclerosis complex disorder, a genetic disease that causes non-malignant tumours to grow on a number of organs.

Graves said: "While these compounds from green tea are extremely safe and consumed by millions every day, they have a number of properties that make them difficult to use as actual drugs. Nevertheless, our ongoing collaboration with the Stanley lab shows that there are natural compounds from plants that can control this deadly disorder and, with the atomic structure in hand, can be used as a starting point for further drug design."

Top Image Credit: Rows of fresh green tea with Mount Fuji © - ET rssfhs