Dr. Le Mai Huong, a chemist of nature

Dr. Le Mai Huong has had over 25 research studies published in international journals. Her two products made from caterpillar fungus and various mushrooms have recently won international prizes for their scientific values.

A scientist of medical fungi

Dr. Le Mai Huong used to teach allergy and immunology at Hanoi Medical University, but chose the Institute of Natural Products Chemistry to pursuit her interest in natural products chemistry.

Dr. Huong started studying medical fungi in 2000 with research on the monkey head mushroom (Hericium erinaceus), which has high pharmaceutical value for improving memory and fostering health for the elderly.

Dr. Le Mai Huong, a scientist of natural products chemistry. Photo: Viet Cuong

Dr. Huong’s first research was about monkey head mushrooms. Photo: Files

Working at the lab of the Institute of Natural Products Chemistry. Photo: Viet Cuong

Monitoring the growth of caterpillar fungi at the transplanting lab. Photo: Viet Cuong

With colleagues at the lab of the Institute of Natural Products Chemistry. Photo: Viet Cuong

Dr. Huong is a vanguard in developing new research orientations. Photo: Viet Cuong

During her field trips for this research, Dr. Huong found that mushroom farmers worked hard but earned little. This prompted her research toward raising the economic values of medical mushrooms grown in Vietnam.

Dr. Huong thinks that scientific research should serve life. That’s why her research focused on turning out practical products beneficial to people’s health.

Dr. Le Mai Huong is the former deputy director of the Institute of Natural Products Chemistry-Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology; chairwoman of the Science Council and head of the research division, and in charge of training and foreign relations of the Institute; member of the Editorial Board of South Korea’s Agriculture journal, council member of Nafosted (National Foundation for Science and Technology Development).

She also tried to produce natural products of import quality, but at prices affordable to locals. “Vietnam’s natural resources are rich, diversified and inexpensive but have good quality, an advantage other countries don’t have,” she said.

The outcome of Dr. Huong’s ten-year research are two product lines which have been commercially marketed and have received positive response from domestic and overseas consumers.

Bioglucumin is a product with two main ingredients; monkey head mushrooms and lingzhi mushrooms, combined with curcumin essence extracted from yellow turmeric. The product helps boost immunity, fight oxidation and aging, and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

This product has been tested at Hospital 103 by Dr. Vu Manh Hung for reducing liver enzymes. It has also been used to destroy cancer cells and reduce the size of tumors on a trial basis in Russia.

Bioglucumin G is developed from Bigoglucumin combined with pharmaceutical substances from Solanum trilobatum, chamber bitters (Phyllanthus urinaria) and jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum).

“Positive responses from the market is the motive for research by scientists in general and for me and our team in particular,” Dr. Huong spoke about her research on natural products.

New research orientations for natural products

At the Korea International Women’s Invention Exposition (KIWIE) held by the Korean Women’s Development Institution (KWDI) in June 2018, Dr. Le Mai Huong’s products won prizes.

Dr. Huong’s Bioglucumin (300mg/500mg) won the gold prize of the KIWIE 2018 Organizing Committee and special prize of the State Office of Industrial Property of the Republic of Macedonia.

Her Bioglucumin G, which helps reduce cholesterol, liver enzymes and alcohol effects, won the silver prize of the KIWIE 2018 Organizing Committee.

While working as Deputy Director of the Institute of Natural Products Chemistry, Dr. Huong was a vanguard in developing new research orientations.

At the Institute, Dr. Huong applied an advanced research model “Bioassay-guided fractionation” in surveying, which helped shorten research time and quickly screen bioactive compounds.

This research method of Dr. Huong has been applied to the study of other natural products in Vietnam.

Dr. Huong (fifth from left) with delegates to the 12th National Women’s Congress. Photo: Files

Dr. Huong (second from left) at a talk between the Vietnamese Women Intellectual Association
and women ambassadors to Vietnam. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

With delegates to WIPO/FIT in Australia. Photo: Files

With participants at a talk between the Vietnamese Women Intellectual Association
and women ambassadors to Vietnam. Photo: Tran Thanh Giang

Her products receive the special prize at KIWIE 2018 in South Korea. Photo: Files

Dr. Huong’s products are being sold on the market. Photo: Viet Cuong

She also applied this method to study medical fungi and successfully produced two other commercial products-SK GOLD (caterpillar fungus) and Betaglucan-Nanoglucumin.

Dr. Le Mai Huong has made major contributions to research and development of the Institute of Natural Products Chemistry in particular and the natural products chemistry sector in general.

– Dr. Le Mai Huong and her colleagues receive the 2012 State Prize for their research called “Exploitation and reasonable use of marine natural resources of Vietnam to create valuable products serving life”

– Third prize: Science and Technology Creativity Award – VIFOTECH 2004

– Gold trophy for Bioglucumin at Techmart 2015

– Functional Food Association’s gold trophy for SK GOLD-Caterpillar Fungus

Story: Thao Vy – Photos: Viet Cuong