Simi Singh

Herbal quality assessment by chemical characterisation and study of anti-cancer activity of selected Chinese medicinal herbs


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a medical system which has been in practice for more than 3000 years. More than 80 per cent of the population in developing countries rely on herbal remedies. Dong Ling Cao (Radosia rubescens), Jiang Huang (Curcuma longa), Ku Shen (Sophora flavescens) and Ban Zhi Lian (Scutellaria barbata) are known medicinal herbs in TCM and are the focus of this study.

Simi's study seeks to determine the variability of selected bio-active components in raw herbs and commercially prepared extracts. An analytical method will be used to characterise these analytes. Quantitation will be achieved by LC-PDA and LC-ESI-MS/MS. The extracts of the herbs will then be tested for biological activity against the most common cancer cell line: breast cancer (MCF-7).

This study aims to contribute to a greater awareness of the variability of significant bio-active components in four sources of the herb obtained from the marketplace. Currently practitioners and consumers largely place their faith on obtaining a quality herb on the reputation of the supplier as the chemical variability of most medicinal herbs is largely unknown. Based on the concentration of selected bio-active components, the quality ranking of these herbs can be developed and then compared to cell line testing results to observe if the chemical and biological testing results coincide.

Simi is a part-time PhD student with NICM and a technical officer with the School of Science and Health. She has a strong passion for chemistry due to its central and diverse role in the scientific enterprise.


Supervisors:

Associate Professor Chun Guang Li, Dr Mitchell Low, Dr Henry Liang