Professor makes tea discovery

Tin-Chun Chu, a biology assistant professor at Seton Hall, recently discovered that tea may be the answer to emerging health concerns.

“Recently, more and more antibiotic-resistant (and multidrug resistant) bacteria have been discovered and they have burned our healthcare system significantly,” Chu said in an email interview.

Chu and her team, a combination of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students at Seton Hall, have found that, “tea polyphenols (both black and green tea) may work on the bacterial cell surface, which further destroy the bacterial cell integrity,” she said.

A similar discovery was made in regards to the herpes virus. “We also learned that tea polyphenols were able to inhibit attachment and penetration of the herpes viral infection process,” Chu said.

Chu came to Seton Hall in fall 2008 and started the collaborative project in spring 2009.

Chu says that effective therapeutic agents, products used in antibiotics, are running out. This issue is a concern for organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We are at a critical juncture to develop next effective antimicrobial agents with minimal to no adverse effect.

As a result, we are eager to seek the alternatives from natural sources,” Chu said. Among those sources, as proven by her research, can be tea.

Winning the popularity contest for favorite beverage consumed worldwide, both black and green tea have “several medical benefits, including their potent antioxidants, cholesterol-reducing properties, protection against cardiovascular diseases, aid in weight loss, and even cancer suppression,” Chu said.

The research has “obtained promising results” using tea to develop potential therapeutic agents as antibiotic alternatives,” Chu said. She credits her entire team for the results they have obtained so far. Chu said since joining Seton Hall the research has resulted in 21 peer reviewed articles, 91 published abstracts for scientific presentations at regional, national, or international scientific meetings with more than 41 Seton Hall student co-authors.

Seton Hall alumna Kimberly Bernard (2013) worked with Chu as a biology major in both undergraduate and graduate school. She initially had Chu for microbiology and ended up working on her research team.

Bella Fischer, freshman undecided major, is interested to learn about Chu’s research.

“I don’t drink a lot of tea, but if there are medical benefits then I would definitely start drinking it more often,” Fischer said.

Alexandra Gale can be reached at alexandra,

Author: Staff Writer

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