A simple cup of tea could be the next secret weapon against terrorism, scientists have revealed.
Scientists discovered that a chemical found in tea could deactivate ricin, an extremely poisonous ingredient used in past wars and multiple deadly terrorist attacks.
"Our new findings suggest that if the security services want to counter the threat of ricin, they may find the answer in their morning cup of tea,” Professor Les Baillie of Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences said, according to Wales Online.
Ricin earned its notorious reputation as a deadly bioweapon in WWI when it was being considered by the U.S. military to be used either as a toxic dust or as a bullet or shrapnel coating. Even a tiny dose of ricin, which comes from the castor oil bean that has been used as a medicinal laxative for centuries, can kill a person within two to three days.
However, researchers have found that a chemical polyphenol found in tea called Epigallocatechin gallate can neutralize the deadly effects of ricin.
Ricin was famously used to assassinate a Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov as he was waiting for a bus on Waterloo Bridge in London when a suspected KGB agent injected him with ricin using a poison-tipped umbrella.
The UK team found that polyphenols in black tea were able to kill bacillus anthracis, the organism which causes anthrax and was used in the 2001 US anthrax mail attacks.
"These toxins, such as ricin, have been shown to have been used by nasty people, and nasty countries, to do nasty things," Baillie said, according to Wales Online. "With a number of overseas guests arriving in the UK for the Olympics, we think this research could encourage them to drink tea - our national drink - but also naturally encourage their resistance to potentially damaging toxins."
Published by Medicaldaily.com