In the United Kingdom, nanoparticles derived from tea leaves inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells and destroyed up to 80 percent of them. A joint Swansea University and Indian team made the discovery while testing a new method of producing a type of nanoparticle called quantum dots.
Quantum dots can be made chemically, but this is complicated and expensive and has toxic side effects. The Swansea-led research team were exploring a non-toxic plant-based alternative method of producing the dots, using tea leaf extract.
Tea leaves contain a wide variety of compounds, including polyphenols, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. The researchers mixed tea leaf extract with cadmium sulphate and sodium sulphide and allowed the solution to incubate, a process which causes quantum dots to form. They applied the dots to lung cancer cells which penetrated into the nanopores of the cancer cells and destroyed up to 80 percent of them.