The research team, headed by Kattesh V. Katti, Ph.D., M.Sc.Ed., principal investigator of the National Cancer Institute-funded Hybrid Nanoparticles in Imaging and Therapy of Prostate Cancer Platform Partnership, literally brewed a fresh pot of Darjeeling tea and added gold salts, which get reduced by phytochemicals already known for their health benefits. Coincidentally, the tea chemicals that regulate the size of these nanoparticles also increase their likelihood of being taken into breast and prostate cancer cells, improving their potential as targeted anticancer drugs. The nanoparticles are also highly stable in biological fluids.
Dr. Katti says that discovering tea’s nontoxic formation of nanoparticles is of paramount importance for medical and technological applications. He explains that gold nanoparticles have many potential medicinal and technological uses, such as targeted anticancer drugs, but currently their synthesis needs toxic reagents that make them unsuitable for use in the body. The natural chemicals used in this new method are harmless in the body, and the reaction produces no toxic byproducts, only some slightly unusual tasting cold tea.