Green tea compound may help combat rheumatoid arthritis

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Washington, Feb 17 (IANS) A compound in green tea may offer a potential new approach to combating the joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers confirmed their findings in a pre-clinical animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, where they observed that ankle swelling in animals given the compound in a 10-day treatment plan was markedly reduced.

The discovery was detailed in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology.

“Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use,” said lead researcher Salah-uddin Ahmed from Washington State University in Spokane, US.

So the team evaluated a phytochemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties found in green tea.

The researchers found that EGCG has high potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis because of how effectively the molecule blocks the effects of the disease without blocking other cellular functions.

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“This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 – an important signaling protein – through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis,” Ahmed said.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that mostly affects the small joints of the hands and feet.

It causes painful swelling that progresses into cartilage damage, bone erosion and joint deformity.

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