A recent study revealed that consuming just two cups of green tea could block the advancement of HIV infection. Scientists in Texas in collaboration with their counterparts in the UK carried out this study.
This study featured in the online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study revealed that a major polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) present in green tea has the ability to block the HIV from attacking the immune system.
Previous studies have revealed the anti-cancer, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory functions of EGCG, a flavonoid that gives green tea its characteristic colour. Clinical trials of several EGCG-based cancer drugs are in progress.
Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and University of Sheffield, UK revealed the mechanism by which EGCG blocks HIV. They found that EGCG bound to the same site as the HIV on the cells it infects.
gp 120, a surface protein of HIV , facilitates the release of the virus' genetic material into the cells through a unique pocket on the cell surface. The study revealed that EGCG binds to the same pocket and prevents the HIV from entering the cells and thus the cells do not get infected.
Dr. Christina Nance, a Baylor pediatrics instructor and research supervisor for allergy and immunology at Texas Children's Hospital, said, "For the study the researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to see what EGCG does to prevent HIV infection from progressing. "
"One of the promising factors is, that because this is a small molecule and binds to the same exact binding pocket as (HIV's) gp120, it may not inhibit the (normal) function of the CD4 molecule," Nance said.
Merely 2 cups of green tea could provide sufficient EGCG to prevent the advancement of HIV. The researchers admitted that more research was required to validate these findings before it could be used in development of drugs.
"It would be part of a cocktail of drugs," Nance said.