Researchers from the University of California have found a compound in green and black tea that could potentially help to develop blood pressure-lowering medications to treat hypertension, among other medical conditions.
In the tea, the researchers discovered two catechin-type flavonoid compounds that activate the ion channel protein KCNQ5. These two compounds are known as epicatechin gallate and epigallocatechin-3-gallate, both of which the researchers found in green and black tea.
The ion channel protein named KCNQ5 is responsible for allowing potassium atoms to diffuse out of cells in order to reduce cellular excitability (the change in membrane potential that is necessary for cellular responses in various tissues). When these ion channel proteins are activated in the blood vessel wall, it helps to relax blood vessels, and thus, reduce blood pressure.
This exciting new discovery could lead to the development of more efficient treatments and has the potential to massively improve global public health.
In addition, researchers from other institutions have also been making new discoveries. Compounds that could help to combat pain have been found in deep water cone snails by researchers from the University of Utah, potentially leading to the development of new painkilling treatments.