There is a number of plants that lead in development for cancer and other ailments, however, unexplored plants across the world could have untapped medicinal properties. This was the sentiment of Prof Parmelazhagan Thangaraj from the Bharathiar University in India.
Prof Thangaraj was speaking at a lecture titled, Bioproscting of medicinal plants for human welfare, held at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Doornfontein Campus on Wednesday, 01 March 2017.
The lecture focused on the role of bioprospecting of medical plants in current treatments of diseases, to encourage research in herbal medicine and collaborate with other emerging fields in alternative treatment modalities for various diseases.
The Director of the Laser Research Centre and the South African Research Chair in Laser Applications in Health, UJ, Prof Heidi Abrahamse, who has been associated with photodynamic cancer therapy, stem cell differentiation and wound healing, is currently collaborating with Prof Thangaraj on a research project that focusses on the cell death induced by a procedure that uses a uses light sources combined with a light-sensitive drug to destroy cancer cells.
Said Prof Abrahamse: “India is well-known for its unexplored medicinal plants, which can be used to develop powerful phytocompounds that can be used in the treatment of cancer. Existing treatment modalities are expensive and causes adverse side effects in already compromised patients.”
Prof Thangaraj’s research involves the documentation and compilation of knowledge and use of valuable plant resources.
Prof Abrahamse concluded: “South Africa’s biodiversity remains a great source of interest to researchers and scientists. The potential of using plant extracts that exhibit anticancer activity and discovering the unknown can possibly help thousands of men, women and children who are suffering or will suffer from cancer and other ailments.”