Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases in the world right now.
Statistics from the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) show that there are over 11 million new cases diagnosed across the globe with more than 7 million people dying from the same disease.
At this rate, new cases are expected to increase to 16 million per year with over 10 million cancer-related deaths by 2020. This is where a Nigerian scientist named Mansurah Abdulazeez comes in.Cancer
She is a Molecular Biologist at the Center for Biotechnology Research, Bayero University Kano, Nigeria, attempting to make a permanent cancer cure from Nigerian plants.
Since studying biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, she has turned her focus to studying antihypertensive and anticancer activities of Nigerian plants.
She recently shed light on her innovative research aimed at identifying anticancer agents from Nigerian plants during an interview with Nature, a prestigious weekly international journal.
Explaining her work so far, Abdulazeez said: “We have screened and confirmed the cytotoxic activities of extracts of the drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and soursop (Annona muricata) trees as well as the native Nigerian shrub Peristrophe bicalyculata on cervical carcinoma and fetal lung carcinoma cell lines. We also studied what anticancer mechanisms these plants exhibit. We found that these plants act in the body through a variety of mechanisms — there is no single mode of action for all plants.”
She goes on to explain why she is using plants for her cancer research.
In her words, “It is well documented that these plants have an enormous, largely unstudied anticancer potential. Research into herbs such as Guiera senegalensis, which is used by traditional African healers and known as ‘Sabara’ by locals, has led to the discovery of several anticancer drugs. In my view, this demonstrates how the study of African plants can result in the development of valuable drugs.”
So far, her research has earned her the Science by Women Fellowship from Spain and a Nigerian National Research Grant of N31 million ($86,000) from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
Abdulazeez joins the likes of Chibawanye Ene, another Nigerian currently fighting to put an end to cancer.