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USC study finds that green tea blocks benefits of cancer drug
Date:2/3/2009

Contrary to popular assumptions about the health benefits of green tea, researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have found that the widely used supplement renders a cancer drug used to treat multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma completely ineffective in treating cancer.

The study, which found that a component of green tea extract (GTE) called EGCG destroys any anticancer activity of the drug Velcade in tumor-bearing mice, will be published in a future print edition of the journal, Blood. It is now available online at the journal's pre-publication First Edition website.

"Our finding that GTE or EGCG blocked the therapeutic action of Velcade was completely unexpected," says lead author Axel H. Schnthal, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "Our hypothesis was that GTE or EGCG would enhance the anti-tumor effects of Velcade, and that a combination of GTE with Velcade (or EGCG with Velcade) would turn out to be a superior cancer treatment as compared to treatment with Velcade alone."

Herbal remedies, including green tea, have become a popular remedy for cancer patients dealing with side effects of chemotherapy. However, these supplements are unregulated and, for most, their beneficial and/or detrimental effects have not been qualified through research.

Using preclinical models and tumor-bearing mice, the researchers found that the unusually effective blockage of Velcade's therapeutic activity was based on the chemical interaction between molecules. The EGCG molecule and the Velcade molecule were able to form chemical bonds, meaning that the Velcade molecule could no longer bind to its intended target inside the tumor cells.

Clincal trials to verify these results in humans would be highly unethical to conduct, because of the predictably unfavorable outcome. Nevertheless, the researchers expect the results of the
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Contact: Meghan Lewit
lewit@usc.edu
323-442-3941
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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