British scientists in a breakthrough study, have found a natural replacement for chemotherapy in lung cancer patients, as they have demonstrated how tiny particles derived from tea leaves can restrain the growth of lung cancer cells, destroying up to 80 percent of them.
The researchers from Swansea University’s College of Engineering in the United Kingdom, found that these tiny particles, called “quantum dots,” are 400 times thinner than a human hair, and producing them from tea leaves is safe and non-toxic.
Previous studies have established that tea leaves contain a wide variety of compounds, including polyphenols, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants.
Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu, lead researcher of the new study explained how their study confirmed previous evidence that tea leaf extract can be a non-poisonous alternative to making quantum dots using chemicals.
Pitchaimuthu explained that the only surprise, was that the dots actively inhibited the growth of the lung cancer cells.
Quantum dots can be made chemically, but this is complicated and expensive and has toxic side effects. The team, including researchers from KS Rangasamy College of Technology and Bharathiar University in Tamil Nadu, explored a non-toxic plant-based alternative method of producing the dots, using tea leaf extract.
To comprehend this analogy, the researchers mixed tea leaf extract with cadmium sulphate (CdSO4) and sodium sulphide (Na2S) and allowed the solution to incubate, a process which causes quantum dots to form.
They then applied the dots to lung cancer cells. They found that tea leaves are a simpler, cheaper and less toxic method of producing quantum dots, compared with using chemicals, confirming the results of other research in the field.
The study found that quantum dots produced from tea leaves inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells.
The researchers penetrated into the nanopores of the cancer cells and destroyed up to 90 percent of them. The CdS quantum dots derived from tea leaf extract showed exceptional fluorescence emission in cancer cell bioimaging compared to conventional CdS nanoparticles.
According to the research published in Sciencedaily, the researchers explained that quantum dots are therefore a very promising avenue to explore for developing new cancer treatments.
They also have other possible applications, for example in anti-microbial paint used in operating theatres, or in sun creams.