Scientists Discover Nanoparticles from Tea Leaves that Kill Lung Cancer Cells

September 5, 2018
Nanoparticles from tea leaves are yet again useful for treating illnesses. Now it's cancer's turn.

Research carried out between scientists in India and at the University of Swansea in the UK has discovered that nanoparticles from tea leaves can kill cancer cells.

We should point out that, like many other great scientific discoveries, this happened purely by chance. They’ve made what could be possibly the discovery of the year by accident.

Although this finding needs more rigorous research, these small particles are called “quantum dots”, a type of nanoparticle four-thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. And it’s precisely because of their size that they’re able to penetrate the pores of cancer cells, destroying them with a cytotoxic effect. It can kill 80% of the cell.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is the common name for a group of diseases relating to uncontrolled cell divisionor tissues that spread more than normal over the top of other tissues.

Cancer can also be considered a completely autonomous “guest” by taking advantage of the body’s tissues, with fatal results.

Doctor talking to patient about cancer

Nanoparticles from Tea Leaves: Multiple Benefits

The use of nanoparticles is being studied in various fields of research such as improving the quality and colour of television screens, for example.

Furthermore, if the studies yield positive results, these nanoparticles could be used to detect and identify tumoursthanks to their fluorescent properties when they absorb light energy. However, this is a complicated and expensive chemical process and could have side effects.

The research team created a simple method to produce non-toxic nanoparticles. In doing this, they discovered the effect of these nanoparticles from Camellia sinensis leaves with other chemicals.

Camellia sinensis is a plant from which tea is made. It comes from China and Southeast Asia, and now grows all over the world. At one time, it was an ingredient in more than 50 different Chinese medicines and, along with others, to make green, red, or black tea. This is because it is a great source of antioxidants.

Not only does it cure cancer. It’s useful for other treatments such as preventing diabetestreating fatigue and bladder problems. As well as this, it’s a great source of caffeine, iron, and proteins, due to the tannins it contains.

After the discovery, they began to observe that these nanoparticles killed cancer cells.

How the Research Began and Where It Is Now

The principal researcher in this discovery was Doctor Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu. He’s a physics expert and globally-known for his use of nanoparticles. He is researching, amongst other things, their use to create photo-electric particles through cell synthesis.

tea leaves

Doctor Pitchaimuthu explained that the “surprise came when, sometimes, these particles stopped the growth of harmful cancer cells.” It was at that moment that they realised their discovery.

However, it’s important to stress that this does not mean that drinking lots of tea will cure or prevent cancer. It’s much more complicated than that.

In any case, Doctor Pitchaimuthu told BBC News that with the next two years they would be able to test them on humans, and not only that, but he believed there could be a medicinal use with the next 10 years.

“The next step”, said Doctor Pitchaimuthu, “is the carry out the experiment on a larger scale, with the help of other collaborators. We want to investigate the function of this tea leaf extract on cancer cells.”

He added that he also wanted to create a quantum dot business. Through this, he hopes to explore more functions, new avenues of investigation and new uses for nanoparticles from tea.

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