A further plus point is that not only did she succeed in producing new useful substances made of oils and fats for the industry, the professor at the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) did so in an environmentally friendly way.
"This organic synthesis uses enzymes and it is produced through nanotechnology. Our focus is to process new substances derived from oils and fats," she said in an interview at her office. "What is also important is that the materials are clean and safe.”
Skin care benefit
The discovery is useful in other fields, such as pharmaceutical and agrochemical, and for cosmetics, she says there are antioxidants and anti-ageing substances that could benefit.
Through the use of nanotechnology, those substances can easily absorb through the skin, and this way, they would be more effective, Dr Mahiran adds.
"The ingredients in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and agro-chemical formulations are made through nanotechnology to produce the best for their efficacy, bio-availability in the products and ensure the safety of the consumers" she affirmed.
According to the professor, efforts have been formulated to commercialise the innovation although it may take time.
"At this stage, we have obtained a pre-commercial project from Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC)," she said.
Mahiran’s active research and excellent performance in the field of chemistry including her far-reaching oil palm research that has contributed to the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries too, was recognised in December with an Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) for Science and Technology 2014 award.
The award was presented by the ISESCO Director General, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri in Rabat, Morocco, as Mahiran took home a certificate, a medal and a cash prize of $5,000 (€4,310).
The biennial award has been organised by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) since 1979 to foster and strengthen collaboration in the fields of science, education and culture among the OIC members.
Dr Mahiran has led 20 research projects in more than 3 decades since 1982, and her series of scientific research have also garnered her numerous awards including the prestigious Archer Daniels Midlands Award from the American Oil Chemists' Society and the Ram Rais Biotechnology Award at the International Invention and Innovation Exhibition (ITEX) 2004 – UPM.