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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 9, 2015

An ethnopharmacological approach to the preliminary screening of native Australian herbal medicines for anticancer activity

  • Aaron C. Tan , Izabela Konczak , George Li , Basil D. Roufogalis , Bhagwant Sekhon and Daniel M.-Y. Sze EMAIL logo


Background: Five plants used traditionally by Australian Aboriginals and two edible native Australian fruits have been investigated for anticancer activity. The aim was to identify native Australian herbal medicines which displayed anticancer activity, with cytotoxicity to cancer cells but sparing or even proliferating normal immunological cells, and subsequently provide potentially new anticancer drug leads.

Methods: Extracts and derived fractions were assayed for cell viability against a multiple myeloma cell line, RPMI-8226, in comparison to the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) representing normal human immunological cells.

Results: None of the crude extracts exhibited the desirable differential activity; however, following further fractionation of the Eremophila duttonii F. Muell. (Myoporaceae) extract, one fraction (termed F01) exhibited a greater cytotoxicity to the cancer cell line than to the normal cells.

Conclusions: One fraction may potentially contain valuable compounds which may be useful for further investigation. This may focus on the identification of the bioavailable purified compounds present within these fractions or by detailed delineation of the related mechanisms of action.


The authors would like to thank the Traditional Aboriginal Owners of the Australian land. The authors would like to thank the Cancer Institute NSW Fellowship for support of this study (DMS). The authors would also like to thank the staff and students in the Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Sydney, especially Meng Qiuxia and Iyad Ahmed.

Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

Competing interests: The funding organization(s)played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2014-3-27
Accepted: 2015-5-18
Published Online: 2015-6-9
Published in Print: 2015-9-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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