Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Committee Chair

Mott, Daniel J.

Committee Member

Mendez, Monica O.

Committee Member

Addo-Mensah, Alfred K.

Committee Member

Ynalvez, Ruby A.


Fossil evidence dates plant usage in healthcare as far back as 60,000 years. In fact, indigenous biomedicine in South Africa has an estimated economic value of over $326 million. Researchers have concluded that approximately 200,000 healers deliver this form of healthcare to 27 million South Africans. Worldwide, plant usage in healthcare is estimated at 65%. The use of plants from the Combretaceae family in medicine have been of much interest to scientists. However, Combretum farinosum has little published research on its pharmacological properties, unlike many of its extensively studied congenerics. Combretum farinosum roots, fruits, leaves, and stems were sequentially Soxhlet extracted using petroleum ether, acetone, and ethanol solvents. These extracts then underwent a rotary evaporation and freezing drying process before being weighed and diluted in DMSO to make known concentrations. A three day Wallert and Provost LabTM 96-well plate MTT cell proliferation assay was performed on LL47 lung fibroblasts, H69 small lung cell carcinoma, and BJ fetal foreskin cell lines. The MTT assay is a colorimetric assay which allows for the quantification of percent inhibition of cell growth in response to treatment with test extracts through the detection and quantification of formazan, which is the byproduct of the reduction of MTT by mitochondrial dehydrogenase. Combretum farinosum roots petroleum ether extract showed the strongest anti-proliferation activity of all the extracts against the normal cell lines. Combretum farinosum roots petroleum ether extract also showed the strongest anti-proliferation activity of all the extracts against the only cancer cell line tested. However, future research should be aimed at testing the C. farinosum extracts against other cancer cell lines to examine if the petroleum ether extracts remain the most cytotoxic. Both the roots petroleum ether and roots acetone extracts may have potential use in targeting diseased non-cancerous tissue (e.g. benign tumors) due to their cytotoxicity to normal cell lines. Finally, the roots petroleum ether extract may be the most promising extract for potential use as an anti- cancer drug if active compounds can be more thoroughly isolated.