17-year-old Filipina wins award for ground-breaking cancer cell research

cancer research
17-Year-Old Filipina Wins International Award For Study on Malunggay and Cancer Cell Research – www.philippineslifestyle.com (photo by SunStar)

A 17-year-old Filipina has won an international award for her research in how malunggay seed extract can impede the growth of cancer cells in the body.

Arianwen Rollan won the coveted award at the Qatar Foundation’s First Award for Research and Development in Medical Science. The event is pegged as the largest high school science project competition in the world.


The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is held each year in Qatar, Saudi Arabia.

Miss Rollan shared her grandmother’s life story and how she died of cancer, and motivated her to investigate  cancer.

Miss Rollan, a student of Cebu City National Science High School, after winning local awards for her studies was encouraged to enter the ISEF. Her overall study shows that malunggay seed extract inhibits the development of blood vessels in chick embryos.


Miss Rollan s “When there is a tumor, there will be a rapid development of blood vessels. The more blood vessels, there will be more nutrients supplied to the tumor. In this case, we need to inhibit the development of these blood vessels in order to cut off its source of nutrients.”

Due to the common use of malunggay in the country, Miss Rollan decided to use the plant as a focus for her studies “Malunggay seeds are available anywhere here in the Philippines. In fact, it would be unusual if you don’t have the Malunggay tree in your own backyard especially in the rural areas,” she said.

On the other hand, cancer-treatment drugs currently on the market are “…very expensive and these also have fatal side effects. This inspired me to look for a natural agent against cancer.”

Since winning the award in Qatar, Rollan hopes to inspire others like her – she also hopes to receive government funding to continue her study in her research and studies.

“I really hope that our government would establish a special organization with complete facilities that gives more attention to these kinds of projects… There are a lot of bright young minds in our country and the only problem is that there is no one to help them fund their research,” she said.

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