Cancer is the seventh highest cause of death in Indonesia. Currently, there are many ways of treating cancer, one of which is chemotherapy. This type of therapy is most commonly used and what is often selected as chemotherapeutic agent is doxorubicin. However, the use of this drug can cause various side effects, among others, hair loss, cardiotoxicity, and decreased immune system. The later is even resulting in the vulnerability of cancer patients to infections due to the decrease of immune system. In the meantime, an effective way to prevent the decline in the immune system has not been found (immunosuppression).
Until finally, a good news is brought on by the students of UGM Faculty of Pharmacy. Finally, the ways to prevent immunosuppression is found. The material of the drug is not high-priced nor has to be imported like the doxorubicin drugs; in fact it’s just the skin of fruit that can be easily found in Indonesia. What is it?
It is kaffir lime skin. Based on the research results of UGM Pharmacy students, kaffir lime skin contains a compound capable of preventing immunosuppression in cancer chemotherapy. "The skin of kaffir lime is containing naringenin and hespiridin compounds as antioxidants to enhance the immune system and accompanying cancer chemotherapy," said Herwandani Putri when describing the results of her research in PIMNAS activity in Makassar on Thursday (21/7). Putri is accompanied by two other researchers, Stendi Nagaji and Ifani Amaliah.
Before choosing a kaffir lime, Putri together with her colleagues who joined in cancer chemopreventation study group has selected a variety of citrus fruit skin to study on, such as tangerine, lemon, and Balinese orange. However, the choice fell to the kaffir lime, which turned out to contain two compounds that effectively prevent the decrease in immunity. "The highest concentration of compound is in the skin of kaffir lime," said the girl who was born in Yogyakarta, 28 December 1989.
To obtain compounds of the kaffir lime skin is not easy. After the skin is peeled, it is dried in an oven. Once dried, it is smoothed using the pollination method. Next, the extraction is conducted by adding ethanol as a solvent agent. Of the 500 grams of mashed powder, 100 grams of the extraction result can be obtained.
Later, the experiments were performed on rats. Once extraction result from the kaffir lime was tested in rats, it proved to be able to prevent the decrease in the number of white blood cells after the rat was previously exposed to chemotherapy. "If you add the extract, the white blood cell count did not decline as much as if not using any," said the first child of three siblings.
Although she acknowledged it as a preliminary study and has not been tested to humans, according to Putri, she will conduct further studies by conducting extracts standardization and preclinical trials after later it is made in the form of capsules medicines. "Later, the extract can be consumed in the form of a drug for those who is undergoing cancer chemotherapy," said Putri who claimed that her research is aided by the Higher Education with 6 million rupiah.
On the fact that currently doxorubicin has to be imported from abroad, it is not impossible if there is a strong willingness and cooperation between various parties to make cancer drugs domestically. "Even if each drug has to wait 20 years to be tested first before being consumed," she said.