Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tea: anti-bioterrorism weapon

A tea cup may hold the potential to protect humans from bioterrorist threats according to an article published in the March, 2008 issue of the Society for Applied Microbiology's journal Microbiologist.

Professor Les Baillie from Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University and Dr Theresa Gallagher of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore describe how compounds found in Camellia sinensis, the plant whose leaves are commonly used to produce tea, possess the ability to inhibit the activity of several strains of infectious bacteria, including Legionella pneumophila, by stimulating intracellular antibacterial activity.
Extracts from the plant also have a direct antimicrobial action at concentrations found in a standard cup of tea. In addition to targeting the microorganisms themselves, tea compounds have been found to inhibit the biological activity of the toxins they produce. Neurotoxins produced by Clostridium tetani and Clostridium botulinum (a potential bioterrorism agent) are inhibited by thearubigins found in black tea, which are generated during the fermentation of green tea leaves.
Thearubigins are believed to exert their effect prior to the cells’ uptake of these toxins. Similarly, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), one of the active compounds upon which much of the current tea research has been centered, inhibits the activity of the lethal toxin produced by Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), which can fatally infect humans. Continue Reading

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