Aleteia

Meet the Nigerian doctor using African plants to fight cancer

DOCTOR Mansurah Abdulazeez
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Studying her native land’s plant life fills Mansurah Abdulazeez with hope in the battle against cancer.

When God created the Earth, He filled it with millions of plants with healing powers that scientists have yet to completely discover. Mansurah Abdulazeez, a Nigerian doctor at the Center for Biotechnology Research at Bayero University Kano in Nigeria, is using her God-given gifts to find the anti-cancer properties present in the plants growing in her native homeland.

Abdulazeez initially wanted to become a medical doctor, as she explains in an interview with The Guardian; however she studied antihypertensive and anticancer activities of African plants at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, including a six-month research program in Thailand, gaining a Master’s degree and a PhD.

During her research she discovered anticancer agents in Nigerian plants that proved to be not only efficient and powerful, but safe. In particular the drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and soursop (Annona muricata) trees, as well as a shrub indigenous to Nigeria, the Peristrophe bicalyculata, were used to study cervical carcinoma and fetal lung carcinoma cell lines, according to the Guardian interview. From the research, Abdulazeez and her team were also able to determine the anticancer mechanisms that the plant-life demonstrated; finding that each plant reacted differently.

The findings are optimistic for the doctor who believes there are many benefits to be found in her homeland’s vegetation. She’s hoping to inspire other young African women to join her in the medical profession. While expressing the need to keep up-to-date with medical advances, she also stated: “Always ask for support from senior colleagues — and family members — whenever you need it. Remain focused, tenacious and hard working.”

It’s this dedication to finding ways to help others that has led Abdulazeez to be awarded the Spanish Science by Women Fellowship, as well as a Nigerian national research grant of $86,000. Yet perhaps even more importantly, her research has shown the hidden powers of God’s creation.