Topic status: In progress

Chronic wounds, often associated with venous and arterial ulcers, diabetes and pressure sores, is an area of major concern as the on‐going and in‐direct costs are substantial, reaching far beyond the costs of the physician and hospitalisation. Current figures indicate that approximately six million people suffer from chronic wounds worldwide. In Australia, the prevalence of chronic wounds (200,000 – 600,000), is estimated to be 7‐8 times higher within the indigenous population compared with nonindigenous Australians.

Wound healing or wound repair is an intricate and complex process that requires the synergistic interaction of numerous tissues and cell lineages. Thus, the innate wound healing process acts to moderate tissue damage and provide sufficient oxygenation and nutrition to facilitate restoration, function and anatomical continuity of the affected area. Skin replacement, wound dressings and physical therapies are the three common approaches used to promote the healing of chronic wounds, whilst exposure to hyperbaric oxygen and application of topical growth factors are occasionally utilised. Unfortunately, such approaches are expensive, ineffective or problematic due to unwanted side effects.

Pharmacological therapies have been developed to address these treatment insufficiencies, however, the availability of drugs capable of promoting the wound repair process still remains limited. Aboriginal bush medicine has been used for thousands of years and thus, the wound healing ability of various herbal plants is well recognised amongst native Australians. Recent studies have demonstrated that several Australian plant species used for medicinal purposes by the indigenous population do in fact produce biologically active extracts and compounds. Hence, traditional herbal plants may provide avenues for promoting the wound healing process and improving patient outcomes with a concomitant reduction in associated treatment cost.

A scientific approach that examines the pharmacological efficacy of natural medicines reported to have an effect on wound healing is necessary to validate traditional accounts.


This project aims to identify various bioactive compounds from several Aboriginal medicinal plants and assess their bactericidal and wound healing potential.


The approaches are:

  • high performance liquid chromatography and time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry
  • cell migration and cell proliferation assays
  • fibroblast cell collagen synthesis assays
  • antimicrobial agar diffusion assays
  • cell culture, skin sample collection and medicinal herb preparation.


  1. Pennacchio, M., Kemp, A.S., Taylor, R.P., Wickens, K.M. and Kienow, L. (2005). Interesting biological activities from plants traditionally used by Native Australians. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 96: 597‐01.
  2. Ren, M., Chen, T., Song, Y., Sheng, L., Ping, L. And Qi, L. (2008). Identification and quantification of 32 bioactive compounds in Lonicera species by high performance liquid chromatography with time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. 48: 1351‐60.
Study level
Organisational unit

Science and Engineering Faculty

Research areas
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