Infection is among the most common diseases as well as among the top causes of fatality. The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has drastically increased around the world, indicating limitation of drug treatment for infectious diseases. Moreover, the outbreak of drug resistance has evidently outpaced any new drug development. There is thus a need for new drugs or alternative treatments.
Alternative medicine has set a new trend and attracted much interest toward herbal supplements from around the world. Thailand boasts a few advantages in this arena through the county’s unique biodiversity coupled tremendous government’s effort to identify benefits of the herbal medicine. One concrete plan has been through policies to support scientific research that would ensure credibility and safety of herbal products for the consumers. Such the effort has contributed to the public and societal good while expand the country’s income.
The research comprised of two parts: a basic scientific research to create new sets of knowledge and a research that focused on utilization by creating cooperation with beneficiaries through a pyramid system. Inside this pyramid system, senior researchers consult and educated their junior counterparts through an interdisciplinary network together to create tangible benefits.
The research adopted natural methods and green technology as its guiding principle. The time/energy-preserving Microwave extraction was adopted aiming to increase both volume and quality of the extracts. In addition the understanding holistic approach of the Thai herbal medicine and nanotechnology were adapted to increase effectiveness of identifying new antibacterial substance.
To understand mechanism of Rhodomyrtone, transciptomics of its microarray was conducted to observe response and changes appeared in its genes. Proteomics technique was used to observe protein expression. Other methods included metabolomics analysis as well as molecular docking. Time-lapse microscopy, structured illumination microscopy, Laurdan GP: fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy were employed to confirm the pairing of Rhodomyrtone and the protein inside a bacterial cell. In a case study of liver infection caused by Rhodomyrtone, human skin organ cultures were utilized and the infection was simulated with TNF-α and IL-17A. Protein-study techniques like qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and ELISA were used to understand the gene behaviors.
The research studied Rhodomyrtus tomentosa extract. The proteomic map and transcriptomic map of Rhodomyrtone were published in Plos One journal in 2018. In addition, a report on the newly found, unique antibiotic-property in Rhodomyrtone was also published PLoS Pathogens. In BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017, the study elaborated other alternatives such as adding resistance modifying agent, such as Holarrhena dysenterica extract, to increase effectiveness to antibiotics. Moreover, a look into Quorum sensing inhibitor in antibacterial mechanism, use of nanotechnology, combined with scientific information to back practice of using Thai traditional medicine to treat infection ultimately contribute to identifying a more effective antibacterial substance.
Application of natural antibacterial substance like Rhodomyrtone in cosmeceutical industry, food supplement industry, natural preservative industry that helped prevent and treat infections in animals (Plos One 2018) can benefit the treatment of human patients suffering from psoriasis.
Research that utilized green technology and environmentally-friendly extracting method has gained much interest. The interdisciplinary method – collaboration among pharmacy, modern medicine, and veterinary medicine – has become productive. There has since inspired further studies on Rhodomyrtone on the effect of psoriasis as well as technological development of Endotracheal coating to reduce biofilm which is a major cause of death among patients in critical condition. Private beneficiaries also include cosmeceutical products by Aminta Cosmo Limited, preservatives and supplements in the beverage industry by Tipco Biotech limited. These Rhodomyrtone products multiply values to its raw materials in the country while also increase competitive potential in the world.
Outstanding factors of the research
Research on Rhodomyrtus toementosa (Aison) Hassk extract and Rhodomyrtone was selected as ASNP Natural Product of 2018 by Asian Society of Natural Products. The research proves that Rhodomyrtone has been an important compound with high efficacy to be developed into new antibiotic with new mechanism of action, which is required to beat drug-resistant pathogens. Rhodomyrtone contains property comparable to glycopeptide, which is used only to treat drug-resistant Staphylococci. It is known that, unlike other antibiotics, Rhodomyrtone increases fluidity of pathogenic bacterial membrane.
Other Rhodomyrtone products by private sector also include Liposome Rhodomyrtone Gel for acne treatment. Rhodomyrtone serves as a highly effective inhibitor against proinflammatory gene and protein. Sothern Regional Hospital of Tropical Dermatogoly, Trang Province, has developed anti-inflammatory Rhodomyrtone formula to treat patients with psoriasis. The innovation can be developed further into biologic agents. In addition, Rhodomyrtone is used to treat bovine mastitis in dairy farm, Pattalung Dairy Cooperative, which helps reduce the issue of low-quality milk production. “Rhodomyrtone fish food” to boost fish immune and prevent Streptococcosis infection at the Aquatic Animal Health Research Center, PSU, which also helps increase entrepreneurial prodcutivity in Sonkhla. Education on how to grow GAP-standard Rhodomyrtus toementosa will enhance sustainability of these products.
Prof. Dr. Supayang Voravuthikunchai
Natural Product Research Center of Excellence, Prince of Songkla University