The compounds—EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea and tannic acid in red wine—block the formation of toxic metabolites, molecules that are the building blocks of DNA and proteins, that occurs in people born with defective genes.
People born with metabolic diseases accumulate metabolites that, in large quantities, can be toxic and cause severe developmental and mental disorders. They've been linked to neurodegenerative problems such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, metabolic diseases, and some cancers. A common metabolic disorder in children is PKU (phenylketonuria).
Sufferers have to stick to a very strict diet their whole lives to try and control the process, but scientists from Tel Aviv University have discovered the compounds in green tea and red wine go one better, and stop the metabolites from forming in the first place.
The compounds mimic the role of metabolic enzymes which control the production of metabolites in healthy people.
The study "overhauls the research community's understanding of metabolic diseases," said one of the researchers, Shira Shaham-Niv. "We are entering a new era of understanding the role and the importance of metabolites in various diseases."