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A new study suggests that the active ingredient in green tea halts the HIV infection process.
The University of Tokyo study found that the ingredient, an antioxidant called EGCG, prevents the AIDS virus from binding to infection-fighting T-cells and killing them.
"The T-cell is the sparkplug of the immune system," said Dr. William Shearer of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who is doing a follow-up study on EGCG.
"The HIV virus sticks to it and kills it. That's what causes the trouble."
Shearer said the finding could open the door to using EGCG to augment the drug cocktail that AIDS patients take.
Green tea is made up of antioxidants called catechins, the most abundant of which is EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate.
The study was published in the November edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.