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Tea Could be Tool Against Bioterror Agents, Researchers Say

Researchers in Wales have determined that an antioxidant found in tea can be useful in defeating the effect of the lethal toxin ricin, the Western Mail reported on Thursday (see GSN, Dec. 7, 2011).

The key component is Epigallocatechin gallate, according to findings from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University.

“We already knew that tea had the ability to inhibit anthrax -- as long as it is black tea with no milk," said professor Les Baillie. “Our new findings suggest that if the security services want to counter the threat of ricin, they may find the answer in their morning cup of tea.”

Ricin can be deadly in minute doses and there is yet no known antidote for the potential bioterror agent. It was employed in the 1978 killing of Bulgarian exile Georgi Markov and has subsequently been linked to other plots.

It remains to be seen how the work of the three-year-old research project could be put to use in real-world settings, Baillie said (Graham Henry, Western Mail, July 19).

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