Sarawak closer to producing anti-HIV, cancer drugs

MIRI: Two researches carried out by the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) on drugs obtained from local plant species to fight Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and cancer were now in their final stages, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

He said the anti-HIV drug, obtained from Calanolide which is contained in the latex of Bintangor or Calophyllum tree, was now in the clinical trial stage that, among others, would test its side-effects before the drug could be available commercially.

Read more at Star Online


KUCHING, Malaysia.(WNL)- Bintangor belongs to the family Guttifarae, which includes the mangosteen. There are over 50 species of Bintangor (C.lanigerum), found mostly in western Sarawak; of this number, two are now known to have medicinal value. To the local population the Bintangor is known mostly as a timber tree of good quality, with an attractively grained wood.

Bintangor grow in the lowland and hill forests; some even thrive on poor, sandy soil. The different types of Bintangor are identified by the structure and veneration of their leaves. The larger kinds of Bintangor can attain a girth of up to 10 feet.

At the beginning of the current project, the research team ask the Forest Department to supply 50 kg of Bintangor resin. The good news is that the healing sap can be obtained without killing the tree; the bad news, as far as Forest Officer Hj. Osman Ismawi was concerned, is that each tree yields less than gram of resin per tapping. Bintangor don’t grow densely; lots of arduous footwork went into collecting the necessary quota of latex.

Besides locating and preserving the valuable tree, Hj. Osman’s team is also collecting seedlings for systematic plantation. Some of the these are planted in groves, others scattered in clearing inside virgin forests. ” The Bintangor is a handsome tree!’ the veteran forester says with pride. ” Calophyllum, means ‘beautiful leaf’,” see how glossy, how delicately veined? It is beautiful!”