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How tea works against skin cancer

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL--Tea drinkers have a new reason to appreciate their favorite beverage. Substances found in green and black tea have been shown to inhibit proteins necessary for the development of cancer. Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Hormel Institute and Rutgers University found that the substances worked against cancer development in the skin of live mice and in cultured epidermal cells from humans and mice. Hormel Institute Director Zigang Dong will present the work at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8, during a meeting of the American Chemical Society in the Javits Convention Center, New York City.

The study reveals the powers of two members of the chemical family known as polyphenols. The polyphenols don't block UV light, but they interfere with a cascade of chemical events, set off by UV light and other carcinogens, that lead to the uncontrolled cell division typical of cancer.

"We asked if polyphenols can block the process that turns a normal cell into a cancer cell," said Dong. "We looked for a target." The researchers studied the effects of polyphenols on "target" proteins known to be important in the chain of events leading to cancer. The proteins belonged to two classes: enzymes that activate other proteins, including other enzymes (protein kinases); and proteins that interact with DNA to influence the expression of genes (transcription factors).

The researchers shined UVB light, the ultraviolet light that causes skin cancer, on the shaven backs of mice. They also applied a substance called TPA, which promotes tumor formation. Mice in the experimental groups were swabbed with solutions containing polyphenols; mice in the control group received no further treatment. When the researchers measured activities of the protein kinases and transcription factors in the epidermis, they found that polyphenols inhibited both targets compared to epidermis from mice in the control group. Working with cultured human and mouse epid
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Contact: Deane Morrison
morri029@umn.edu
612-624-2346
University of Minnesota
8-Sep-2003


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