Papaya is abundant in Indonesia and is consumed by the majority of the people. But in fact there is another beneficial potential to be discovered. Three Veterinary Medicine students from UGM have explored the papaya leaves as immunomodulator or drugs to strengthen the immune system.
“We have been inspired by the fact that people use the papaya leaves to boost appetite or as additional feed material for poultry and catfish,” said Aprilia Layli Fauzia, team chairperson.
Together with fellow students, Fatah Nugroho and Reza Wahyudi, they examined the use of papaya leaves extract to immunity in the Student Creativity Programme 2018. The research done since April has received funding from Higher Learning Directorate General.
Firstly, they dried the papaya leaves which are then extracted, using hexane and ethanol solution Later, the students observed the contents of saponin, tannin, and flavonoid, which are the compounds that can serve as immunomodulator.
In the testing stage, they took the macrophagous cells from the mouse peritoneum to test the macrophage phagocytosis, using latex in 7 test groups. They observed the macrophage ability to devour the latex beads.
“Macrophage cells serve like the body defenders. When a germ or disease enters the body, the macrophage will block or devour it before it infects vulnerable cells,” he said.
The papaya leaves extract, she said, is expected to increase the activity of the macrophage so there will be more germs got devoured. Previous research showed that the saponin and tannin have often been used as immunomodulators, but from other herbs.
“Testing of the initial stage contents give good results, even tannin contents in the papaya leaves reaches over 90%,” said Aprilia.
This showed that papaya leaves have the potential to be further developed as cheap alternatives to immunomodulator. The team supervised by Prof. Dr. drh. Pudji Astuti, M.P. hoped they could progress with this development