Green tea antioxidant is a key component in new cancer-fighting drug delivery system.
Green tea is already refreshing on a number of levels -- as a drink, an antioxidant -- and now you can add cancer fighter and "missile delivery system" to its list of accolades.
The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) within Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research) group has filed a patent for its "green tea nanocarrier," a new cancer drug delivery system that both protects the primary cancer drug, while acting as a drug on its own.
Green tea has a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is the compound these cancer researchers are so interested in. EGCG has been praised for its anti-cancer properties in the past, but the IBN labs are taking its reputation to the limit. A version of the compound is being used as a nanocarrier for other anti-cancer drugs, shielding these drugs from a patient body's immune system. Once inside the body, the nanocarrier system acts like a cloaking device, shielding its drugs from being detected by the immune system, and filtered out of the body. No dilution of important (and costly) drugs is good enough news on its own, yeah?
But it gets better: according to IBN research, the EGCG nanocarrier "not only delivered protein drugs more effectively to the cancer cells, the combination of carrier and drug also dramatically reduced tumor growth compared with the drug alone."
The research team conducted animal studies to evaluate the performance of IBN's green tea-based protein delivery system. The study revealed that IBN's green tea nanocomplex loaded with Herceptin reduced tumor growth much more effectively when compared to administering Herceptin on its own. Using the new nanocarrier, twice as much drug accumulated in the cancer cells, indicating an improved tumor targeting ability. At the same time, the drug accumulation in the other organs was lowered substantially, by 70% in the liver and kidney, and by 40% in the lung.
As the quote says, this research is (or was) in the animal test phase, so it will be some time before we see this kind of cancer treatment out in the world, assuming it passes through the necessary regulations.