A 17-year-old girl from Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City was recently recognized by an international award-giving body for her research on the anti-tumor properties of malunggay seeds.
Arianwen Ledesma Rollan, a Grade 11 student of the Cebu City National Science High School, was the only Filipino awarded during the 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (IISEF).
The IISEF, organized by the Society for Science and the Public, is considered as the world’s largest science research competition for high school students.
Rollan was one of eight Filipinos who joined this year’s IISEF, which was held in Arizona in the United States.
For her research, Rollan was awarded by the Qatar Foundation with a $1,000 cash prize.
Rollan, the second child of a doctor and a businessman, told Sun.Star Cebu that her research on the healing pro
perties of malunggay seeds started as a project initiated by her older sister.
Rollan said her study focused on preventing the growth and spread of a tumor by stopping the development of blood vessels using malunggay seed extract administered on chick embryo.
She explained that tumors often developed due to angiogenesis, or the development of new blood vessels in pre-existing vessels.
She said that based on her research, the malunggay plant, particularly its seeds, could serve as a potential anti-tumor agent.
But she clarified that she is still in the preliminary stages of her study and wants to continue her research further using the money she earned from the IISEF.
Rollan said that the malunggay, locally known as kamunggay, has always been a common plant in Filipino backyards.
“It is unusual for households in the Philippines to not have a malunggay plant on their backyard,” Rollan says.
Rollan said that the malunggay plant is considered a “miracle plant” due to its antibiotic and medicinal properties and through her research, she plans to take its capabilities further.
Rollan admitted that she encountered many difficulties in coming up with her research, including balancing her academics and looking for funds.
But she said that her load lightened due to the many people who played a big role in improving her research, including biology teachers at the University of San Carlos (USC) who trained her.
Her teachers and classmates at the CCNSHS also supported her in her endeavors.
She hopes that the country would support young researchers like her that would open to more discoveries in science and technology.
Rollan said that once she graduates from senior high school, she plans to pursue biology or medical technology then proceed to her plans to become a doctor.
She also plans to continue with her research and eventually, come up with an anti-tumor cure through her discoveries.