SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Dairy Processing & Markets

News > R&D

Southeast Asia

Young Malaysian scientists honoured for probiotics research

Post a commentBy Rei Rengsen Siew Lin , 23-Jul-2014
Last updated on 23-Jul-2014 at 06:51 GMT

The two young researchers show off their awards
The two young researchers show off their awards

Probiotics research is now entering the Malaysian mainstream, according to two female Universiti Sains Malaysia students who recently received international recognition for their work.

Tan Pei Lei, 28, and Chuah Lee Oon, 30, together beat 222 candidates from 24 countries to be among the Young Scientists Awards winners at the International Conference on Beneficial Microbes, which took place this month in Penang.

Faster healing

Tan’s research looked into the use of probiotics in hastening the process of healing. After looking at a vast range of different probiotics, she hit on a strain that could heal wounds 20% faster when it is applied topically.

Chuah’s work, meanwhile, focuses on probiotics that are not resistant to antibiotics to produce food that is safer for consumption.

Probiotics research is a relatively new discipline in Southeast Asia, and the two students are hopeful their work will prompt others to take an interest in the field.

As Malaysia has already been introduced to probiotics consumption, namely in cultured drinks and yogurt, I thought I should come up with something for external application to speed up the healing process,” said Tan.

"I developed the research over three years by studying about 200 types of good bacteria until I found one which could heal wounds in a short period of time.”

Resistant probiotics

Concerned by the use of some antibiotic-resistant (AR) probiotics in food production, Chuah began to look for strains that were safer for human consumption.

"In general, probiotics have been recognised as safe to be used in food processing but some strains have been found to be resistant to antibiotics, which was worrying, and could make the treatment of some diseases ineffective," she said.

This means easily curable infections could become problematic as treatment becomes difficult or even impossible, leaving the AR bacteria to spread quickly or evolve into a new strain that is harder and more expensive to cure.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia, Professor Min-Tze Liong, who is overseeing the pair’s research, said she hopes Chuah’s study will result in safer products and better awareness among consumers.

In Malaysia, sadly, many are still not aware of probiotics and their benefits, let alone issues on AR. Her work will hopefully emphasise the importance for consumers to know about AR,” she said, adding that Chuah and Tan were model students.

They are willing to work the extra long hours in their quest to obtain answers from their scientific queries. Research is never easy and always challenging

Hitting walls and being in a dark tunnel without seeing the light, is very common. It does not take a genius to complete a research project to to get a Ph.D. It needs a very tough-robust individual who can take it all and at the same time, remain sane! Thats the tough part.”

The results of Tan and Chuah’s research will not be published for some time, though.

Although we have the data, we are planning on securing a patent, and depending on the process, this could take up to three years,” Liong said.

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...