Scientists find why green tea could suppress cancer

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In a new study, researchers found that an antioxidant found in green tea may increase levels of p53, a natural anti-cancer protein.

P53 is known as the “guardian of the genome” for its ability to repair DNA damage or destroy cancerous cells.

The researchers found a direct interaction between p53 and the green tea compound, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and the finding points to a new target for cancer drug discovery.

The research was conducted by a team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Mutations in p53 are found in over 50% of human cancer, while EGCG is the major antioxidant in green tea, a popular beverage worldwide.

P53 has several well-known anti-cancer functions, including halting cell growth to allow for DNA repair, activating DNA repair, and initiating programmed cell death—called apoptosis—if DNA damage cannot be repaired.

EGCG is a natural antioxidant, which means it helps to undo the near-constant damage caused by using oxygen metabolism.

Found in abundance in green tea, EGCG is also packaged as an herbal supplement.

In the study, the team found that the interaction between EGCG and p53 preserves the protein from degradation.

Typically, after being produced within the body, p53 is quickly degraded. This regular cycle of production and degradation holds p53 levels at a low constant.

The team found that when EGCG binds with p53, the protein is not being degraded, so the level of p53 will increase with the direct interaction with EGCG, and that means there are more p53 for anti-cancer function.

The work helps to explain how EGCG is able to boost p53’s anti-cancer activity, opening the door to developing drugs with EGCG-like compounds.

One author of the study is Chunyu Wang.

The study is published in Nature Communications.

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