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Polyphenols in Green Tea Thwart Genetic Disorder, Cancer

August 17, 2011

2 Min Read
Polyphenols in Green Tea Thwart Genetic Disorder, Cancer

ST. LOUISScientists have discovered polyphenols found in green tea can control the deadly congenital disease hyperinsulinism/hyperammonemia (HHS) and two types of tumors, according to a new study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Researchers at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and The Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia examined the association between polyphenols and the regulation of glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), which is found in all living organisms and responsible for the digestion of amino acids. HHS is caused by the loss of some of this regulation, and  patients (typically children) respond to the consumption of protein by over secreting insulin, becoming severely hypoglycemic, often leading to death.

Using atomic structures to understand the differences between animals and plants, the researchers discovered that two compounds found naturally in green tea are able to compensate for this genetic disorder by turning off GDH in isolated and when the green tea compounds were administered orally. The lab also used X-ray crystallography to determine the atomic structure of these green tea compounds bound to the enzyme. With this atomic information, they hope to be able to modify these natural compounds to design and develop better drugs.

Two other research groups have validated and extended the findings to demonstrate that blocking GDH with green tea is very effective at killing glioblastomas, an aggressive type of brain tumor, and tuberous sclerosis complex disorder, a genetic disease that causes non-malignant tumors to grow on a number of organs.

While these compounds from green tea are extremely safe and consumed by millions every day, they have a number of properties that make them difficult to use as actual drugs. Nevertheless, our ongoing collaboration with the Stanley lab shows that there are natural compounds from plants that can control this deadly disorder and, with the atomic structure in hand, can be used as a starting point for further drug design," the said.

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