Khao Kum Lanna rice research to fight against PM 2.5 and lung cancer: national award-winning innovation by a CMU student

4 April 2022

Corporate Communication and Alumni Relations Center (CCARC)

Lung cancer is the second leading cause of death in Thailand; some of the major causes include smoking, environmental exposure, and notably PM 2.5, whose health impacts have been under research.

Apichaya Prisananuntakul, a CMU dental student, became interested in the biological benefits of the purple rice and came up with the research, Tablets made from the purple rice variety CMU 107 to reduce lung cancer risks, which won the silver medal at the National Innovation Competition in the Higher Education category. The competition was a part of the 16th Thailand Research Expo 2021, themed ‘The Power of Research for the Future’, aiming to showcase the power of research as a key to the analysis and planning for knowledge and technology integration.

The CMU Faculty of Agriculture has been researching and developing the purple rice variety CMU 107 for over a decade and this has allowed Ms. Apichaya, who was sponsored by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chanakan Thebault Prom-u-thai and supervised by Prof. Dr. Pornngarm Dejkriengkraikul, to find a medical application for the rice variety. Biological activity testing revealed that this variety of rice contained a chemotype that could inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells so the researcher investigated further to find out how much of the chemotype the body can receive in a day per the amount of rice, giving rise to the CMU 107 Rice Tablet, which is easy to consume and suitable for all. One favorable aspect of the product is the use of lower-heat processing which allows for a high amount of extracted chemotype. The target group is identified as people who are in the 25 – 60 year-old range, who have high risks of lung cancer.

Not only does this research promote awareness about the health impacts of pollution, but it also clearly shows that the responsibility of the community and local economic development does not necessarily have to fall solely on certain bodies, but can be improved upon by anyone. Ms. Apichaya recognized the importance of the benefits of the purple rice and has now contributed by developing the CMU 107 Rice Tablet, which will also help generate incomes for farmers.

Education is CMU’s top priority and the university is continually pushing research in various fields so that students’ and researchers’ quests for knowledge will have no bounds, and new knowledge will always be discovered. This is also in line with CMU’s BCG Model which seeks to balance economic growth and natural resource sustainability. It is going to be an important mechanism that drives exponential growth, and equal distribution of opportunities and incomes in order to distribute wealth to local communities and elevate the economy and the quality of life for all citizens.