Brew up to beat bioterrorists?

Date of release: Monday, July 23, 2012

Dr Simon RichardsonNew research has revealed that a nice cup of tea could hold the solution to a range of deadly weapons in the bioterrorist’s arsenal.

As well as being the nation’s favourite drink, research has shown that the morning brew has the ability to kill micro-organisms and inactivate toxins. 

Dr Simon Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Greenwich’s School of Science, is part of a team of researchers who have discovered that a principal component of black tea can neutralise ricin, a highly toxic substance which has been at the centre of a number of attempted terrorist attacks.

Dr Richardson says: “One cup of char 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. I’ve been working on neutralising ricin poisoning for about six years as a by-product of my work in drug delivery. Professor Les Baillie from Cardiff University is leading this project, which is in its preliminary stages but there is real progress! The next stage, as well as securing more funding, is seeing if other components of tea have a greater effect.”

Ricin was the poison used to kill the Bulgarian dissident Georgie Markov on Westminster bridge in 1978 after a small pellet containing the poison was fired out of what was thought to be a modified umbrella.

To find out more about studying science at the University of Greenwich and the research we undertake, please visit:http://www2.gre.ac.uk/about/schools/science 

e-mail: courseinfo@greenwich.ac.uk

Call: 020 8331 9000.

Story by Public Relations