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Study shows green tea could save lives

Photo: Green tea could save lives: scientists
Scientists are working to unlock the life-saving properties of green tea, which could one day help people with blood cancer and Alzheimer's.

A compound found in green tea could have lifesaving potential for patients with a form of blood cancer, say US scientists.

Biomedical engineers at Washington University found the compound epigallocatechine-3-gallate (EGCG) may be of particular benefit to patients struggling with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis - a rare disease of the bone marrow.

These patients are susceptible to a frequently fatal condition called light chain amyloidosis, which causes the toxic accumulation of insoluble fibrils, or plaque, in various organs including the heart and kidneys.
EGCG is a polyphenol found in green tea leaves, it is also found in many spices and herbs. Other products and spices rich in this micronutrients are cloves, star anise, cocoa power, oregano, flaxseed meal and dark chocolate.

And evidence for its role in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases is emerging.

Previous research at Washington University showed EGCG prevented dangerous build-ups of protein in people with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

A similar finding has now been found in those with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.

The study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, showed in bone marrow patients, EGCG transformed the internal structure of the light chain amyloid protein, preventing the misshapen form from replicating and accumulating.

"The ECGC pulled the light chain into a different type of aggregate that wasn't toxic and didn't form fibril structures, as happens to organs affected by amyloidosis," said lead author Jan Bieschke, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the university's School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Clinical trials are now being run in Germany and China, said Prof Bieschke.

"My group is looking at the mechanism of the protein in a test tube; we are studying how it works on a foundational level. At the same time, clinical trials at the Amyloidosis Center in Heidelberg, with Alzheimer's in Berlin and with Parkinson's in China examine the process in people. We all want this compound to work in a patient."

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