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Research has led to a potentially ‘game-changing’ medical breakthrough in how cystic fibrosis is treated using a substance more commonly found in green tea.
A team of scientists at Dundee University have worked alongside medical teams in Italy and France to come to the conclusion that a combination of an existing cystic fibrosis treatment and a common antioxidant often managed to reverse the key characteristics of a common form of the condition.
The small trial consisted of only ten patients, but could potentially offer tens of thousands of cystic fibrosis patients hope in a completely innovative approach to their treatment.
Participants in the trial were given Cysteamine, an already licenced drug for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, alongside a compound known as ‘epigallocatechin gallate’ which is often found within green tea. Together, the combination dramatically reduced inflammation within 90% of the participants and also reduced the salt levels in their sweat – a lesser known trait of the condition.
One of the key characteristics of cystic fibrosis is inflammation of the airways, due to an overactive enzyme which binds together accumulation of detritus which in turn promotes inflammation. With the combination of the existing Cysteamine treatment and the ‘epigallocatechin gallate’ element, scientists found that they could control the enzyme and prevent it from welding everything it touches.
“The results suggest that it might be possible to arrest the disease,” Dr Mehta, the clinical reader at the Dundee Medical Research Institute, “Obviously we are still at an early stage but if these results are replicated in a placebo-controlled clinical trial, then I believe it could be a potential game-changer.”
As the drugs involved in the study are already licences, being off-patent means that the cost of developing an effective drug therapy based on the results of the study may not be as prohibitive as creating a drug from scratch.