According to Penn State food scientists, green tea contains a compound called that epigallocatechin-3-gallate – EGCG, the major polyphenol found in green tea, that may trigger a cycle that kills oral cancer cells.
The studies around this compound showed that it can kill oral cancer cells without harming normal cells. The researchers carried on their researches, since they initially did not understand how could this compound target the cancer cells. Their current studies show that the EGCG may trigger a process in the mitochondria that leads to cell death.
Basically, EGCG causes the formation of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells, which damages the mitochondria, whose response it to make more reactive oxygen species. As this continues, cancer cells reduce the expression of antioxidant genes, lowering its defence. The EGCG does not cause this reaction in normal cells. In fact, it appears to increase the protective capabilities of the cell, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the online issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
The researchers said that a protein called sirtuin 3 — SIRT3 — is critical to the process, since it plays an important role in mitochondrial function and in anti-oxidant response in lots of body tissues. In fact, researchers think that EGCG may selectively affects the activity of this protein in cancer cells, to turn it off and in normal cells to turn it on.
Several studies were carried out on oral cancer cells in cultures and the next step is to study the mechanism in animals. If those tests and human trials are successful, e researchers are positive that they could be able to create an anti-cancer treatments to be as effective as current treatments without the well known harmful side effects we have today, especially with chemotherapy drugs.
We can say by no doubts that this is another success for researchers and nutrition therapists!