Could the natural compounds found in black tea be powerful enough to successfully counter the deadly effects of a biological terrorist attack? New research out of the U.K. seems to suggest so, having found that a specific compound abundant in tea effectively deactivates and neutralizes ricin, a highly-toxic chemical byproduct of castor beans that is often used in attempted acts of biological terrorism.
Dr. Simon Richardson, a senior lecturer in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Greenwich School of Science in the U.K., and his colleagues examined the various compounds naturally found in tea and discovered that one in particular, which was not named in their research, disables ricin's toxic effects. And if extracted from tea into processed form, Dr. Richardson believes the compound could hold the key to potentially thwarting biological terrorism.
"One cup of char (British slang for tea) won't cure you if you have been poisoned, but compounds extracted from tea could, with further research, provide an antidote to poisoning following a terrorist attack," says Dr. Richardson. "I've been working on neutralizing ricin poisoning for about six years as a byproduct of my work in drug delivery ... the next stage, as well as securing more funding, is seeing if other components of tea have a greater effect."
Read More: Compounds Found In Black Tea Can Neutralize Bioterrorism Microorganisms