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Kakadu plum: Researcher explores medicinal value of indigenous Australian fruit

The Kakadu Plum, a native Australian fruit, is said to boast the highest level of vitamin C of any food in the world. In recent times, it’s been hailed as a superfood for its high nutritional value and purported anti-ageing qualities.

Hansi Alwis, a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, is using nanotechnology to explore how the Kakadu Plum could provide a treatment for cancer cells. Having studied chemistry at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura in Sri Lanka, Ms Alwis says she is looking into the Kakadu plum, which she calls ‘a plant with medicinal properties, unique to Australia’. She decided to make it the focus of her PhD under the supervision of Dr Vinuthaa Murthy, who leads research in computational and nano chemistry at the university..

The first step in her research has been to mix extracts from the plums and leaves of the Kakadu Plum plant with solutions of silver and gold iron to create silver-gold nanoparticles. Ms Alwis is ready to research the anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties of the created nanoparticles as the second step of the research. She says she is preparing to conduct laboratory-level research with cancer cells.

Ms Alwis says research using nanotechnology has yet to be carried out on the Kakadu plum plant, but previous research found that it has anti-bacterial properties. "One of my big hopes is to eventually lay the groundwork to create a dressing for healing wounds using nanoparticles created from Kakadu plum extracts.”


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