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Student’s tea study wins award

18 July 2012

William McCully
William with a tea plant at the National Botanic Garden.

A Cardiff student's research into how tea can block a hospital superbug has won him a prize for collaborative research in Wales.

William McCully is a third year PhD student at the Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which is working with the National Botanic Garden of Wales to try to discover what components in tea are responsible for its antibacterial activity against Clostridium difficile.

William's research has won him a presentation award from the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships programme (KESS), is a collaborative research and higher-level skills project led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. Supported by the Welsh Government's ESF Convergence Programme for West Wales and the Valleys, by 2015 KESS will provide more than 400 PhD and Masters Scholarships in collaboration with external partners and focusing on the Welsh Government's four priority research and development sectors.

KESS holds an annual event where students and academics from across Wales are given the opportunity to share their experiences and compete in a presentation competition about their research. At this year's event, hosted Cardiff University, William won with a presentation entitled entitled Tea - a natural product for hospital infections.

Teas medicinal properties have been widely known for centuries, particularly in Chinese medicine. More recently, scientific research has shown tea to have antibacterial, anticancer and antiviral properties, thought to be due to a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. The Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has now discovered that tea inhibits the growth of the hospital 'superbug' Clostridium difficile.

William explained: "Over the last two years, we and the National Botanic Garden have been working out what chemical in tea are effective against the superbug and how exactly they work. Armed with this knowledge, we are trying to modify the growth conditions of a small plantation of Camellia sinensis plants this summer to produce a 'super tea' rich in polyphenols and high in antibacterial activity. The ultimate aim is to successfully produce a naturally enhanced tea that will be clinically effective against Clostridium difficile infection."

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