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Intravenous delivery of tea compound shrinks and destroys skin tumors

In an article published online on August 14, 2012 in the journal Nanomedicine, researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland report a strong effect for green tea extract in combating skin cancer when delivered intravenously. While oral green tea intake has been associated with significant cancer-preventive benefits, its effectiveness as a treatment for pre-existing cancers has had less evidence in its favor.

Dr Christine Dufès and her associates tested an intravenous formulation of a green tea extract containing a significant concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in an animal model of two types of skin cancer. The extract was encapsulated in vesicles containing the plasma protein known as transferrin, which transports iron throughout the body and has numerous receptors in many cancers.

Forty percent of both varieties of skin tumors disappeared after intravenous treatment with EGCG. Thirty percent of the remaining tumors in one type of tumor and 20 percent of the other variety underwent shrinkage, and stabilization was noted in an additional 10 percent. The study is believed to be the first successful test of the delivery method of the extract in cancerous tumors.

"These are very encouraging results which we hope could pave the way for new and effective cancer treatments," stated Dr Dufès, who is a senior lecturer at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. "When we used our method, the green tea extract reduced the size of many of the tumors every day, in some cases removing them altogether. By contrast, the extract had no effect at all when it was delivered by other means, as every one of these tumors continued to grow. This research could open doors to new treatments for what is still one of the biggest killer diseases in many countries."