A paper on medicinal plant extracts by GYA member Alexander Kagansky (Russia) and alumna Vidushi Neergheen-Bhujun (Mauritius) has just been published in ActaNaturae (Vol. 11/1). Vidushi and Sasha teamed up with colleagues from the Far Eastern Federal University Vladivostok, the University of Mauritius, Keele University, and the University of Edinburgh.

Their paper on “Mauritian Endemic Medicinal Plant Extracts Induce G2/M Phase Cell Cycle Arrest and Growth Inhibition of Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Vitro” shows that Mauritian medical herbs possess anti-tumor properties. The plant extracts contain natural chemical compounds to inhibit the propagation of cancer cells. Terrestrial plants have contributed massively to the development of modern oncologic drugs, and this study now provides scientific evidence of their chemotherapeutic potential. While much more research is needed before these compounds can be turned into medicine, the study also shows that preserving the planet’s biodiversity is highly relevant for the future of global medicine development.

The group’s research was also reflected in a piece in Newsweek on “Medicinal Herbs from Indian Ocean Island Found to Stop Growth of Cancer Cells”.

This paper is a direct outcome of the GYA Interdisciplinary Grant 2015/16 on “Epigenetics and Natural Resources”. The collaboration which Vidushi and Sasha started as part of this Grant also led to the establishment of the GYA Biodiversity working group in 2017.

Vidushi and Sasha also profited from mission funds from the Young Scientist Ambassador Programme in 2015 and 2016, which allowed them to carry out an extra-curricular education activity in Mauritius in November 2015, and an activity with students from a local school in Edinburgh, UK, in March 2016.