Biopolymers In Drug Delivery: Recent Advances and Challenges

African Tropical Plant Gums: Grossly Unexploited Carriers or Adjuncts in Drug Delivery Systems

Author(s): Vincent C. Okore

Pp: 7-26 (20)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805078910901010007

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


A volume of attention is currently being drawn to the potentials inherent in African tropical plants as sources of bioactive substances and drug carriers as well as adjuncts in the formulation of drug delivery systems. One group of such carriers or adjuvants consists of polymeric plant metabolites, which can hydrate into gels or mucilages. These are generally known as plant gums. Although gums obtained from African tropical plants have been known for a very long time, their extraction, purification and utilization in pharmaceutical formulations are still at rudimentary stages. There appears to be greater industrial preference for synthetic or semi-synthetic hydrogels as vehicles, carriers and excipients in pharmaceutical, cosmetic or food products. But because of the naturalness of biopolymers of plant origin, with associated inertness and safety, more interest has to be shown, particularly by the pharmaceutical industry, towards the employment of plant gums as drug carriers, or adjuncts, in drug dosage forms. This article seeks to draw attention to some African tropical plant gums, obtained from different plant species, which have been shown, via laboratory studies, to exhibit potential applicability in the development of drug delivery systems.

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