By Yakubu Aliyu
Meet Mrs. Mansurah Abdulazeez of the Department of Molecular Biology, Centre for Biotechnology Research, Bayero University Kano (BUK), who has made a marvelous breakthrough in the treatment of cancer from African plants.
She is currently a visiting scholar at Chiang Mai University in Thailand for six months as part of her PhD research.
Her research aims to identify potent anticancer agents in African plants. Last November, the government of Spain awarded her their Science by Women Fellowship. And in June, she won a Nigerian National Research Grant of N31 million Naira from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
She has 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.
She also studied what anticancer mechanisms these plants exhibit. She found that these plants act in the body through a variety of mechanisms — there is no single mode of action for all plants.
She has also discovered 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 her view, this demonstrates how the study of African plants can result in the development of valuable drugs.
Mrs. Abdulazeez counsels young women scientists to participate in local and international conferences that are relevant to their fields of study, so as to keep themselves updated on cutting-edge research tools, methodologies and funding opportunities. Always ask for support from senior colleagues — and family members — whenever you need it. Remain focused, tenacious and hard working, she advises.