Special to the Journal
AUGUSTA, Ga. – A Georgia Health Sciences University researcher has developed a topical ointment and a daily lip protector with natural ingredients to combat herpes simplex virus type 1, commonly known as cold sores and fever blisters.Adding to his line of green tea technology-derived products, Dr. Stephen Hsu, Professor of Oral Biology in the College of Dental Medicine, created the AverTeaX® topical ointment and the daily lip protector using esters of a green tea polyphenol called EGCG.
The formula in these products inhibits symptoms caused by herpes simplex virus and significantly shortens the duration of cold sores. The daily lip protector is designed to reduce recurrence if applied on a daily basis and also treats dry, cracked or chapped lips. The topical ointment can be applied at the first sign of a breakout for treatment. The products, called AverTeaX®, are available at www.camellix.com (888-483-7775). Camellix LLC is the company that markets Hsu’s green tea products, including MIGHTEAFLOW® products for dry mouth and REVITEALIZE® shampoos for dandruff and hair loss.
“We observed that when the EGCG esters get around the cells, they protected the cells from viral infection. That means there’s a potential to prevent recurrence,” Hsu said.
In November, Hsu published a human study in “Inflammation & Allergy—Drug Target” outlining the effects of the treatment on two patients. The infection of the first patient cleared after three days (70 percent faster than usual) and the infection of the second cleared by the next day. A third patient, treated with a placebo, showed little improvement seven days later.
“That means the formula that we prepared worked very well. It either shortened the duration significantly or we could see a prevention of the breakout,” Hsu said.
Hsu is continuing the research with 60 patients, half of whom are receiving the treatment and half a placebo. In the study published in “Food and Chemical Toxicology,” Hsu collaborated with scientists from Seton Hall University, Montclair State University, California State University and Zhejiang University of China, investigating the inhibition of herpes simplex virus type 1 by the modified green tea polyphenol p-EGCG. The modification makes EGCG easier to use in products. The new class of compounds, including p-EGCG, is patent protected, Hsu said.
Untreated cells in the study were correlated with extensive cell death caused by viral infection. EGCG-treated cells had a significant reduction in infection, and p-EGCG-treated cells showed no infection at all.
“The bottom line is that p-EGCG is more effective than EGCG,” Hsu said. “It has no known toxicity. It can be used in preparations because it is much more stable and skin-permeable than EGCG. When we compare EGCG and p-EGCG, EGCG penetrates the skin barrier poorly and is much less effective against the herpes virus.”
The findings show promise for several types of viral infections, including herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2 (genital herpes), varicella zoster virus (which causes shingles) and human papillomavirus (which causes genital/oral warts and certain cancers).
“These viral infections are very persistent and difficult to treat. Recurrence is very common,” Hsu said.
Current treatments for these viruses include oral or topical antiviral drugs, which can have numerous side effects and impact quality of life.
“These antiviral drugs can also induce mutations in the virus and cause it to form resistant mutants, which pose a potential threat to humans. If you have a drug-resistant mutant, it could spread out and cause more problems without an immediate strategy for treatment,” Hsu said. “There is a need to develop a new approach, a new treatment for herpes infections based on a different mechanism. Our patented technology appears to fill this gap by developing a new generation of preventive and therapeutic products against viral infections. This technology is based on a modified green tea compound, which is purified and can be further developed into drugs.”
Camellix LLC is also pursuing development of new drugs with modified EGCG molecules to combat viral infections.