Beneficial effects of green tea have been known for millenia, particularly in Asian cultures. An ancient Chinese proverb says: "Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one". A cup of green tea contains up to 200 mg of catechins, whose biological activity has been mainly attributed to its antioxidant activity. Efficiency of green tea extract in oral hygiene has been known for centuries and this gave researchers a clue that antibacterial activity might be involved.
Now researchers from the National institute of Chemistry in Ljubljana, Slovenia discovered that the main ingredients of green tea are able to perform other tricks. They found out that green tea catechins inhibit essential bacterial enzyme DNA gyrase, which is the target of several existing clinically used drugs. By the use of NMR spectroscopy, researchers from Slovenia have now pinpointed the ATP-binding site of DNA gyrase as target of EGCG, the most abundant catechin from the green tea extract. Up to now several compounds targeted against the ATP-binding site of bacteria gyrase have been known but couldn't be used as drugs due to their side effects on mammalian cells.
Lead researcher Roman Jerala, the head of the Laboratory of Biotechnology at NIC explains: "We can anticipate to avoid the problem of toxicity using the compounds based on the green tea catechins, which have centuries of established safety record in the human diet."
This finding may be used to develop even more potent antibacterial compounds. Results were recently published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
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