Malaysia has various types of plant species of medical importance which is more than 12,000 species of plants in Malaysia. The medicinal plants are the plants whose parts (leaves, seeds, stem, roots, fruits, foliage etc.), extract, infusions, decoctions, powders are used in the treatment of different disease of humans, plants and animals (Nostro et al., 2000). From the mystical ancient medication technique until today`s high technology-oriented therapy many of these local Malaysian plants have been widely used and scientifically tested as well to explore new therapeutic properties of these plants (Nazmul, et al., 2011).
Generally, plants produce secondary metabolites which constitute an important source of microbicides, pesticides, and many pharmaceutical drugs. Plant extracts of many higher plants have been reported to exhibit antibacterial, antifungal and insecticidal properties under laboratory trials. Plant metabolites and plant-based pesticides appear to be one of the better alternatives as they are known to have minimal environmental impact and danger to consumers in contrast to the synthetic pesticides (Varma & Dubey, 1999). The effects of plant extracts on bacteria have been studied by a very large numbers of researchers in different parts of world (Reddy et al., 2001; Ateb & ErdoUrul, 2003).
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Extraction is a process of two phases comes into contact with the objective of transferring a solute or particle from one phase to the other. Usually, it comes early in the purification process for a bioproduct and typically would precede a high resolution step such as chromatography. The advantageous of using the extraction method is it bring about a significant reduction of volume. There are two types of extraction which are liquid-liquid extraction and solid-liquid extraction. However, solid-liquid extraction will be used in this study.
The problem of severe nosocomial fungal disease has become more seriously, especially in patients with severe immunological impairment. The development of medicine, surgery and transplantology in the last thirty years has caused a dramatic increase in the number of immunocompromised individuals who are more susceptible to fungal infection (Justyna et al., 2009). Patients with immunological impairment, HIV infection, leukopenia (haematological malignancy patients), after surgery, organ transplantation or cancer are at the risk of development mycoses. Well-known, the use of broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents, immunosuppressive agents and corticosteroid therapy are also risk factors.
Among all the fungi only few of them are pathogenic to humans. Nowadays, there are some effective antifungal agents, but, unfortunately, some of the pathogenic species show increasing resistance (Justyna et al., 2009). These fungi are ubiquitous and can be acquired from host surrounding or are components of normal endogenous flora (Candida albican). Even after intensive antifungal treatment, the mortality among infected patients are still high because of patient`s immunodeficiency, late diagnosis or fungal drug resistance. Therefore this study intends to find effective antifungal compounds that able to fight against antifungal infection. As plants are known to produce secondary metabolites which constitute an important source of many pharmaceutical drugs, the present study will screen several Malaysian potential plants extracts to determine whether they consists of antifungal compounds.
To determine whether the plants have antifungal compounds, the plant parts are extracted using solvents by various mechanical devices at certain processing conditions. The solvent sometimes reacts with the solute and the resultant solvent is rendered useless for other purposes. Thus this system is very expensive for large scale separation. Many solids require certain temperature and pressure conditions to dissolve efficiently, thus the extraction process has to be carried out in lab conditions which is not cost effective for large scale extractions.
Importance of Study
It is estimated that 52 percent of low-income world`s population use herbal medicine and supplementation for their primary health care (Planta et al., 2000). It is due to the effectiveness of medical plants that contain antimicrobial to fight against microbial infection.
Nowadays, in modern technology synthetic drugs are easily can find in the market because it already commercialize to people. However, the price of synthetic drugs is very expensive and sometimes it does not cure the disease effectively. Furthermore, there also have some side effects to people who take the synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs are not only expensive and inadequate for the treatment of disease but are also often with adulterations and side effects (H. Osman et al., 2010). Therefore, to overcome this problem, the study of new antifungal compounds from plants is needed.
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Antifungal compounds that extract from the plants are cheaper than synthetics drugs. Other than effective antifungal treatment, the antifungal compounds from the plant extract have no side effect to people. Thus, people do not need to worry to spend more money on the other medicine because of the side effects.
The main objectives of this project are;
To identify medicinal plants that possesses high antifungal activity.
To screen for the suitable solvent for extraction of antifungal compounds
To optimize process conditions for extraction of antifungal compounds
Scope of Works
This study concentrates on screening and extraction of compounds from selected plants for their biological activity against one fungal species which is Candida sp. Seven plants from Malaysia will be screened and extracted using four different solvents at predetermined processing condition. The plant that shows the highest antifungal activity will be used in optimization experiments that identify medicinal plants that possess high antifungal activity. The assay that will be used to determine the antifungal property of each plant is agar disc diffusion method.