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Pasifika Medicinal Plants: Elucidating the Science Behind the Tradition

39 months
Approved budget:
Dr Victoria Woolner
Health issue:
Proposal type:
Pacific Health Postdoctoral Fellowship
Lay summary
Pasifika people use traditional medicine to maintain their health and wellbeing. Medicinal plants have been the source of pharmaceuticals in modern medicine, but new Maori and Pacific medicinal plants as a source of new drug leads has not been realised. Here we aim to purify an anti-inflammatory iron-chlelator that we previously identified in a Samoan traditional medicinal plant and evaluate the utility of the compound in treating diseases of interest in the Pacific, such as Alzheimer disease, cancer, tuberculosis, obesity and diabetes. As this study on one medicinal plant is so promising, we also aim to use bioactivity-guided fractionation to screen medicinal plants from New Zealand, Samoa and the Cook Islands for novel compounds. Together these results will provide the greatest insight into the chemistry and biology of Pacific traditional medicine investigated by a woman of Pasifika descent.