Posted on Sep 25, 2012, 6 a.m.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol found in green tea, could prove to be a valuable weapon in the fight against melanoma and other skin cancers.
A polyphenol compound found in green tea has been shown to make cancerous tumors dramatically shrink and even vanish in a recent animal study. The compound, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has long been known to have preventative anti-cancer properties, but is unable to reach tumours when delivered by conventional intravenous administration. In an attempt to overcome this Dr Christine Dufès, a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (UK), and colleagues encapsulated EGCG in vesicles that also carry transferrin, a plasma protein which transports iron through the blood. Receptors for transferrin are found in large amounts in many cancers. Intravenous administration of the encapsulated EGCG in mice bearing two different types of skin cancer tumors (melanoma and epidermoid carcinoma) caused 40% of both types of tumor to vanish. Furthermore, the survival time of the treated animals was improved by more than 20 days compared to controls. "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,” said Dr Dufès. "This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries."
Lemarié F, Chang CW, Blatchford DR, Amor R, Norris G, Tetley L, McConnell G, Dufès C. Antitumor activity of the tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate encapsulated in targeted vesicles after intravenous administration. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2012 Aug 14.