05 Jun Green Tea Ingredient Changes Metabolism of Pancreatic Cancer Cells
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Wai-Nang Paul Lee, M.D.
Division Chief, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism
Professor of Pediatrics
Director of Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Wai-Nang Lee: The study reports that EGCG, the active biologic constituent in green tea, changed the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells by suppressing the
expression of an enzyme associated with cancer, LDHA.
The researchers also compared the effects of EGCG with those of an enzyme
inhibitor, oxamate, which is known to reduce LDHA activity, and found that
they both operated in a similar manner by disrupting the pancreatic cancer
cells metabolic system.
Scientists had believed they needed a molecular mechanism to treat cancer,
but this study shows that they can change the metabolic system and have an
impact on cancer.
MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Wai-Nang Lee: This is an entirely new way of looking at metabolism. We now know that cancer cell metabolism is no longer a case of glucose goes in and energy
comes out. Now we understand how cancer cell metabolism can be disrupted,
and we can examine how we can use this knowledge to try to alter the course
of cancer or prevent cancer.
Using sophisticated metabolic profiling methods, the researchers found EGCG
disrupted the balance of “flux” throughout the cellular metabolic network.
Flux is the rate of turnover of molecules through a metabolic pathway. The
researchers found the EGCG disrupted this balance in the same manner that
oxamate, a known LDHA inhibitor, did. Based on this finding, they concluded
that both EGCG and oxamate reduced the risk of cancer by suppressing the
activity of LDHA, a critical enzyme in cancer metabolism, thereby disrupting
the balance or homeostasis in the cancer cells metabolic functions.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Wai-Nang Lee: For years, green tea and its extracts have been widely touted as potential treatments for cancer, as well as several other diseases. We know green tea
is a safe product, and we know that it helps patients avoid cancer. So it
seems wise to make green tea a part of your diet. EGCG acts like a metabolic
inhibitor and the study is a proof-of-principle that metabolic inhibitor may
be an effective agent in slowing the growth of cancer cells.
MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Wai-Nang Lee: By explaining how green tea’s active component could prevent cancer, this study will open the door to a whole new area of cancer research and help us
understand how other foods can prevent cancer or slow the growth of