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Research shows that chemicals extracted from green tea can slow the growth of cancer


New research carried out by a team at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Brunel University reveals that green tea catechins can suppress the growth of neuroblastoma cancer in mouse models. 

The study funded by the children’s medical research charity Sparks, shows that the use of catechins extracted from green tea leaves can suppress the growth of neuroblastoma, one of the most fatal forms of childhood cancers, by boosting the body’s own anti-tumour response. Sparks hopes this research will lead to the development of less toxic treatments for children with cancer.

The research team are now looking to begin clinical trials in which Polyphenon E, a clinical grade catechin extract of green tea leaves, will be combined in treatments for children with relapsed neuroblastoma or who are undergoing cancer immunotherapy.

Dr Arturo Sala, formerly at the ICH but now at Brunel University, said: “Aggressive neuroblastoma can be one of the most difficult cancers to treat in children and new non-toxic approaches are needed. Green tea extracts are currently being used in clinical trials for adult the US and could be potentially useful in children with neuroblastoma as well as other cancers.

“We’ve found that the extract acts to stop the neuroblastoma cancer producing a type of cell known as myeloid suppressor cell, which prevents the immune system from attacking tumours. I sincerely hope our efforts have helped unlock new non-toxic methods to boost the body’s innate defence against neuroblastoma”

John Shanley, chief executive of Sparks, said: “Funding research that helps prevent, diagnose, treat and cure conditions affecting the health of children is at the heart of what Sparks does.

“Our funding into less toxic cancer treatments brings with it hope of improved treatments for children for neuroblastoma and other forms of childhood cancers.”

Notes to editors

For more information, or to arrange an interview or photos, please contact Jenny Tudor on 0207 7091 7780 or email jenny_tudor@sparks.org.uk  

About Sparks

As a leading children’s medical research charity we are dedicated to funding and promoting pioneering research into a wide range of conditions and disabilities affecting babies, children and mums-to-be.

Sparks has now funded over 230 research projects in more than 80 hospitals and universities across the UK. We have committed over £23 million into pioneering research projects across a wide spectrum of medical conditions relating to problems in pregnancy, premature birth, the natal period and the early years of life. The charity also supports research into rare childhood diseases.

Through our research, we aim to improve the quality of life for children and families affected by serious illness or disability today, whilst seeking ways to better diagnose, treat and prevent these conditions in the future.

Our work is making a difference for thousands of children and their families, not only in the UK but globally too.

About the UCL Institute of Child Health

The UCL Institute of Child Health, in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), is the largest centre in Europe devoted to clinical and basic research and postgraduate teaching in children’s health.

Academics at the UCL Institute of Child Health work together with clinicians at GOSH to form an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood disease. Many individuals hold joint appointments at both institutions. This allows the hospital and the institute to work together to translate research undertaken in laboratories into clinical trials and treatments in the hospital, bringing real benefits to the children at GOSH and to the wider paediatric community.

See www.ucl.ac.uk/ich/homepage for more information.

‘Polyphenol E enhances the anti-tumour immune response in neuroblastoma by inactivating myeloid suppressor cells’, by G. Santilli, I. Piotrowska, S. Cantilena, O. Chayka, M. D’Alicarnasso, D.A. Morgenstern, N. Himoudi, K. Pearson, J. Anderson, A.J. Thrasher and A. Sala, was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research 15 January.