Tea leaves could deliver prostate cancer treatment

A team from the University of Missouri has created a potential chemotherapy delivery system that uses an extract from tea leaves to target radioactive gold nanoparticles directly to prostate cancer tumors. Treatment for prostate cancer usually includes chemotherapy, with its associated side effects, or injection of radioactive "seeds" into the prostate, which isn't effective in aggressive disease. The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Most prostate cancer is slow-growing, but the aggressive form can spread throughout the body. One of the issues with the radioactive seeds is that they can't carry a big enough payload to slow or stop this more severe form of the disease. The researchers found that the nanoparticles could carry a bigger radioactive payload and stayed close to the tumor site, keeping the treatment just where it is needed and reducing any unnecessary damage to healthy tissue.

"In our study, we found that [epigallocatechin gallate, the most common catechin found in tea] was attracted to tumor cells in the prostate," said Kattesh Katti of the University of Missouri School of Medicine. "When we combined the tea compound with radioactive gold nanoparticles, the tea compound helped 'deliver' the nanoparticles to the site of the tumors and the nanoparticles destroyed the tumor cells very efficiently."

The current studies are in mice, where the tumors shrank 80%. The next step is to test the particles in dogs, which develop a similar form of the disease to humans. This will be in partnership with the College of Veterinary Medicine, and could be followed by human clinical trials on campus.

- read the press release
- see the abstract