Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Nanotechnology-armed green tea can battle cancer

The green tea compounds are encapsulated in nanoparticles.

The green tea compounds are encapsulated in nanoparticles.

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This is a guest blogpost by Aya Nader

Researchers discovered that they can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells using nanotechnology to properly deliver a green-tea-based polyphenol.

To improve the outcome of compounds used to inhibit, delay, or reverse carcinogenesis, an international research team shows that adding nanotech materials to a drug delivery system can aid both prevention and therapy of prostate cancer.

“We formed a basis for the use of nanoparticle-mediated delivery to enhance bioavailability (absorbtion) and limit any unwanted toxicity of chemopreventive agents,” explains Imtiaz Siddiqui, lead researcher of the study, published last week in Scientific Reports.

The green tea polyphenols are encapsulated in nanoparticles. The polyphenol used here is epigallocathechin-3-gallate, better known as EGCG; it’s the most active green tea polyphenol component, according to the research team.

Through stopping the formation of blood vessels which nourish cancer cells, the nanoparticles-coated tea polyphenol starves the ‘bad’ cells to death.

The new study is an extention of a 2009 one where the same research team, including an Egyptian researcher from Al-Azhar University, introduced the concept of utilizing nanotechnology for enhancing the effects of chemoprevention by encapsulating bioactive agents – compounds (green tea polyphenol in this case) that have an effect on living organisms.

The 2009 study “was the first one on the subject and since then the concept has been used worldwide by different researchers and is currently a developing field in cancer management,” says Siddiqui.

The nanoformulation containing EGCG also inhibits the growth of new blood vessels, through which tumors get more blood supply to grow and develop; ultimately allowing the cancer cells to move to other parts of the body.

“There will be no side effects with stopping the formation of blood vessels,” says Siddiqui, adding that the effects will be tumor-specific and in turn will not affect the normal growth and formation of the blood vessels.

While there are some other publications which have suggested a similar mechanism, the data in the new study suggests that nanoparticles raised inhibition of cancer cell growth from 10% with 20 µM EGCG, to up to 50% at the same dose when delivering EGCG by nanoparticles.

In response to a question about dosage, Siddiqui says “It was earlier thought that 12 cups of green tea a day will be good however with our approach I am assuming that one or two capsules a day will suffice”. Siddiqui is referring to his encapsulated green tea formula, not regular green tea pills.

Most of the natural agents have shown “wonderful results” in cell culture and animal model testing, but these effects have yet to be translated to clinical studies because previously, the delivery system was still a work-in-progress and absorption of the drug was relatively low, according to the study, something that Siddiqui and his colleagues say they ‘fixed’ in their new study.

“Our study has paved a way for a different outlook to enhance the effects and will possibly lead to a better outcome clinically. It is difficult to mention how long it will take before initiating a clinical trial but it appears that we are on the right path,” he concludes.

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