Research update!

As I said in one of my first posts this summer we are doing organic chemistry research at UCC. Specifically in natural products. We are looking at different medicinal local plants in Ghana and determining the chemical compounds that give them their medicinal value. The picture below shows the plant I am studying for the summer. Its scientific name is Ricinus communis Linn and its normal/local name is Castor Oil plant.  Each of us have been able to choose our own plant to study.

Previously published literature suggests that the plant has anti-proliferative, anti-ulcer, anti-diabetic, anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial medicinal properties and more. My job this summer is to extract the plant compounds and isolate individual compounds later for identification.


  1. I have collected plenty of plant extract (5 samples) using DCM/MeOH and petroleum ether solvents.
  2. I have collected about 40 fractions but still need to run a preparative plate. (Still looking for a good solvent system to find the separation I need and to determine the polarity of the compounds I have in my plant – I think my plant has a lot of non polar compounds, which makes sense since it is an oil plant). My mentor Akrofi might even try and use flash chromatography to purify my samples since we’re running out of time.
  3. Phytochemical Analysis: I have done 6 tests. So far my plant has tested positive for Saponins, Flavonoids, Alkaloids, Tannins and Unsaturated Sterols.

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The picture above is me with my PI, Dr. Tayman.  So far everything is “boacoooo” (meaning “cool”).

-Kweku (Sean)

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