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A Cup of Tea Could Be A New Weapon Against Bio-terrorism

by VR Sreeraman on July 21, 2012 at 8:50 PM
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 A Cup of Tea Could Be A New Weapon Against Bio-terrorism

Scientists have found that a simple cup of tea could act as a secret weapon to battle bioterrorism.

A chemical in tea can deactivate ricin - a highly-toxic ingredient in deadly terrorist attacks.

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"We already knew that tea had the ability to inhibit anthrax - as long as it is black tea with no milk," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Les Baillie as saying.

"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."
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Since the First World War, ricin has had a frightening reputation as a bioweapon. Even a tiny amount can kill a person within two to three days after getting into the bloodstream.

It comes from the humble castor oil bean, a powerful laxative, used medicinally for centuries.

Academics at Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences discovered the use for chemical polyphenol called Epigallocatechin gallate - a principal property of tea.

It inactivated ricin - a highly-toxic substance used in scores of attempted terrorist attacks.

Ricin is used in an arsenal of terrorist weapons, and has already been at the center of a number of attempted terrorist attacks in the US.

A team showed chemicals in English breakfast tea - known as polyphenols - were able to kill bacillus anthracis, the organism which causes anthrax and was used in the 2001 US anthrax mail attacks.

"These toxins, such as ricin, have been shown to have been used by nasty people, and nasty countries, to do nasty things," Prof Baillie said.

Source: ANI
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