A team of physicians and scientists, led by Nagi Kumar, Ph.D., director of Nutrition Research at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and associate professor in the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida, have received a 3.6 million dollars grant over five years from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study the effect of Polyphenon E, a drug developed from green tea, in preventing progression of early signs of prostate cancer.

"Our broad and long-term goal is to develop safe, non-toxic nutrients that can be consumed safely over long periods to prevent progression of prostate cancer in men with early stage disease or at high risk for this disease," said Kumar. "We are grateful to the NCI for their confidence in our team and this opportunity towards accomplishing this goal and reducing the burden of this disease."

Studies of Asian populations demonstrate that green tea consumption may be one of the reasons why they have the lowest risk of prostate cancer compared to the Western world. Recently, animal and laboratory studies have identified specific substances in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) as a potent ingredient that can prevent or stop the formation and growth of several human cancers including prostate cancer.

Researchers at Moffitt observed that these substances in green tea function similarly to drugs such as Velcade and Bortezomib that are currently used to prevent prostate cancer, but without the toxicities observed with the use of these drugs. Polyphenon E was recently evaluated for safety in human trials funded by the NCI.

In a small pilot study in Italy, doctors demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of a similar substance manufactured with green tea in preventing progression of prostate cancer in men who were diagnosed with High-grade Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (HGPIN) lesions in the prostate, an early sign of prostate cancer.

Based on the promising results of these studies, Moffitt hopes to recruit and treat 240 (120 per group) men and evaluate safety and effectiveness of the drug in preventing progression of HGPIN to prostate cancer. The goal is to also evaluate if Polyphenon E reduces urinary tract symptoms that men experience with this condition.

The Moffitt team includes Drs. Julio Powsang, Wade Sexton, Loveleen Kang, Said Sebti, Aslamuzzaman Kazi, Kathleen Egan, Michael Schell, Gwendolyn Quinn and Karen Besterman-Dahan. Other participating institutions include the University of Chicago, Jefferson Medical Center in Philadelphia and the James A Haley Veterans' Hospital.

To sign up to participate in the study please call 1-888-MOFFITT.

About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Located in Tampa, Florida on the University of South Florida campus, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 15 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country's leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Hospitals for cancer. Moffitt's sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

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View drug information on Velcade.

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