Green Tea May Help Transport Cancer Drugs

Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR in Singapore, led by J.E. Chung, have been developing a way to create a nanocarrier from green tea that can hold cancer-fighting medications.

The IBN research team (from right to left): Dr. Susi Tan, Dr. Motoichi Kurisawa, Prof. Jackie Y. Ying, Dr. Shujun Gao, Dr. Joo Eun Chung and Ms. Nunnarpas Yongvongsoontorn

The IBN research team (from right to
left): Dr. Susi Tan, Dr. Motoichi Kurisawa,
Prof. Jackie Y. Ying, Dr. Shujun Gao, Dr. Joo Eun Chung and Ms. Nunnarpas Yongvongsoontorn

A nanocarrier is a material that is less than 100 nm in diameter and can serve to move a substance within the body. The team at IBN has created a nanocarrier from EGCG, an antioxidant that is found in large amounts in green tea. A molecule is then employed to act as a cover, to trick the body into ignoring the carrier, rather than initiating an immune response to fight it. They believe this green-tea based nanocarrier may provide valuable improvements to today’s chemotherapy treatments.

In the study, Herceptin, a commonly used breast cancer treatment, was introduced. Researchers found that two times the amount of Herceptin was found in the cancer cells of those who had received the nanocarriers when compared with those given the drug only. In addition, there was 70% less Herceptin found in the liver and 40% less in the lungs in those cases.

While nanocarriers have shown promise because of their ability to target cancer cells more specifically, a challenge is that they can only transport very small amounts of medicine. Therefore a large number of nanocarriers would need to be used to reach an appropriate dose. Sometimes, the nanocarrier itself provides no added benefit to the body, but in other cases, it can actually have a negative effect if used in large amounts. Interestingly, the EGCG core may actually have a specific value-add, improving the impact of the medication.

“The numerous health benefits of green tea have inspired us to utilize it in drug delivery systems. This is the first time that green tea has been used as a material to encapsulate and deliver drugs to cancer cells. Our green tea 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. This is an exciting breakthrough in nanomedicine,” said IBN Executive Director, Professor Jackie Y. Ying in a press release.

The results of the study were published in Nature Nanotechnology.

SOURCE: IBN Press Release