A daily cuppa of black tea may help fight anthrax

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Washington, Mar 13 : Besides giving you the right kick start in the morning, your cuppa of black tea could be the latest defence against an anthrax attack, says a new study.

Anthrax, a potentially fatal human disease is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. A very serious and rapidly progressing form of the disease occurs when bacterial spores are inhaled making anthrax a potent threat when used as a biological warfare agent.

The new study, conducted by an international team of researchers from Cardiff University and University of Marylandhas, has revealed how the humble cup of tea could well be an antidote to Bacillus anthracis -more commonly know as anthrax.

The team of scientists led by Professor Les Baillie from Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University and Doctor Theresa Gallagher, Biodefense Institute, part of the Medical Biotechnology Centre of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore, has found that the widely-available English Breakfast tea has the potential to inhibit the activity of anthrax, as long as it is black tea.

Baillie said: "Our research found that special components in English Breakfast tea such as polyphenols have the ability to inhibit the activity of anthrax quite considerably."

The research also shows that the addition of whole milk to a standard cup of tea completely inhibited its antibacterial activity against anthrax.

"I would suggest that in the event that we are faced with a potential bio-terror attack, individuals may want to forgo their dash of milk at least until the situation is under control. What's more, given the ability of tea to bring solace and steady the mind, and to inactivate Bacillus anthracis and its toxin, perhaps the Boston Tea Party was not such a good idea after all," Baillie added.

The study is published in the Society for Applied Microbiology's journal Microbiologist.

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