Tea Deactivates Poison Powder

CARDIFF, U.K.

Among its celebrated health benefits, tea has also proved a promising countermeasure to biological weapons.
Ricin is a highly toxic favorite of terrorists who can kill victims with a tiny sprinkle of the powder.
Scientists at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science discovered that EGCG, one of the main components of tea, deactivates Ricin’s poisonous properties.
Professor Les Baillie of the pharmacy school told Wales Online that researchers already knew that tea was effective at inhibiting anthrax just as long as it was black tea with no milk. The new findings suggest that “if the security services want to counter the threat of ricin, they may find the answer in their morning cup of tea.”
Ricin is a highly toxic byproduct of processing castor beans with kills in about two days. It was alleged to be the basis for a plot to launch a poison attack in the London Underground in 2003 and a number of attempted attacks in the U.S.
It was also famously the substance used in 1978 to kill Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov as he waited for a bus on Waterloo Bridge in London, when he was injected with ricin using an umbrella by a suspected KGB agent.
In lab tests, Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) deactivated ricin. Baillie said it was too early to know how it could be definitely applied as a countermeasure.
Cardiff researchers are finding that tea works in a number of unexpected ways. Scientists earlier demonstrated polyphenols in English breakfast can kill bacillus anthracis, the organism which causes anthrax and was used in the 2001 U.S. anthrax mail attacks
William McCully, a PhD student, recently won a competition for research into using tea to combat the bacteria Clostridium difficile — which is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Initial research indicated that tea could kill the bacteria. McCully is working with the National Botanic Garden of Wales to grow a “super tea” rich in polyphenols that will be clinically effective against the bacteria.
Tea was also effective at deactivating the botulinum toxin, the most poisonous substance known to science.
Source: Wales Online

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