Gold: Prostate Cancer's Newest Enemy

Green Tea Targets Prostate Cancer Cells

Written by Brianna Panzica
Posted July 19, 2012

Antioxidant-rich green tea has long proven to have health benefits. But new research shows this could go beyond a healthy immune system.

Research from the University of Missouri have discovered a compound in green tea and other types of teas that can be used in conjunction with gold particles to fight prostate cancer.

Called EGCg, this compound targets cancer cells. It can be used to take radioactive gold nanoparticles directly to the cancerous cells, avoiding healthy ones.

Unlike the radioactive “seeds” normally used to fight some types of prostate cancer, these gold nanoparticles are very small, enabling them to stick strictly to the cancer cells.

From ABC News:

“By combining a natural component in green tea that has an affinity for prostate tumor cells, we have formed gold nanoparticles that have a high uptake in tumor cells,” said Dr. Cathy Cutler, research professor at the MU Research Reactor and co-author of the study. “This formulation of gold nanoparticles, which has shown such tumor cell death at such a low dose in a model of aggressive human prostate cancer indicates it could be effective for aggressive prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer found in men, and there is currently no treatment for its aggressive form.

Prostate cancer is usually combated with chemotherapy. But unlike this new treatment, chemotherapy affects more than just the cancer cells. Its high doses can spread toxins throughout the body and induce a long list of side effects.

The doses of gold nanoparticles would be very low in comparison.

Kattesh Katti, the lead author on the study, told that the scientists “were able to reduce the tumor size by 70 to 80 percent.”

And Cathy Cutler described the process:

“We just take natural gold, and we more or less eradiate it in the research reactor. We then take that gold and react that with components from the tea and make nanoparticles.”

The key to all of this is the EGCg compound. For years, scientists have been interested in the way gold properties might react with cancer cells, according to Cutler, but there was no way to keep them confined to the cancer cells.

But this compound does just that.

So far the research has been successful in mice with human prostate cancer cells. The study will soon move on to larger animals, like dogs, and human trials could begin as early as the next five years.


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