This Green Tea Molecule May Be The Key To Fighting Zika

Brilliance | Dec. 16, 2017

You know green tea is good for you. You may not, however, understand how impressively far its benefits go. The key ingredient behind those benefits is a polyphenol—a kind of antioxidant—called EGCG. Though scientists still aren't quite sure how, this molecule has been shown to fight a wide variety of dangerous human invaders, from antibiotic-resistant infections to deadly viruses such as hepatitis C and even HIV. In 2016, scientists added one more virus to that already impressive list: Zika.

Primarily spread through mosquitos, Zika virus has most recently taken a toll on people in Brazil and Colombia. If pregnant women are infected with the virus, it can cause dangerous birth defects—in particular, microcephaly, where babies are born with unusually small heads. Despite this danger, there's no cure, or even a vaccine. For a study published in the journal Virology, scientists exposed Zika to high concentrations of EGCG, and found that the molecule prevented 90% of the virus from entering and infecting host cells. This is huge, since studies suggest that, unlike many harsher chemicals, EGCG is safe to give to pregnant women. Could a vaccine be on the horizon? Explore the idea in the videos below.

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