With just a few days before voting ends, Griffith University’s Dr Asmaa Boufridi is still in the running for the Australian Academy of Science’s video competition for early to mid-career researchers. But she needs your vote.
A postdoctoral scientist with the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery, Asmaa is using samples from the Institute’s remarkable Nature Bank facility in the search for new medicines to tackle Parkinson’s disease.
To see and hear more about her work, and more importantly to vote for Asmaa, go to https://thinkable.org/submission/3083. You’ll need to register, but it’s easy and worthwhile.
More than 100,000 Australians live with Parkinson’s disease. A progressive neurological condition, sufferers have difficulty controlling their movements and may also experience depression, pain, memory problems and sleep disorders. It affects people from all walks of life and so far has no cure.
“My research focuses on using chemical compounds from nature to develop new medicines for Parkinson’s disease,” says Asmaa.
“Previously using this method, we have identified a new compound from a marine sponge collected from the Great Barrier Reef that shows very promising results.
“The next step is to figure out how the chemical acts on Parkinson’s cells to determine if we can develop this compound as a possible new medicine.”
While Asmaa’s video focuses on her project, she says the benefits of Nature Bank extend beyond it.
“For instance, other compounds discovered from our natural samples may also be useful for diseases like malaria or cancer,” she says.
“We want to ensure that for the next 150 years, researchers can access this fantastic bank of plant and marine material. Our Nature Bank samples may hold the cure not only for current diseases, but for diseases that may emerge in the future.”
Eskitis researchers and collaborators have been collecting samples from nature for more than 20 years. These now form a truly unique collection comprising more than 63,000 samples of plants and marine invertebrates.
These have been processed into a library of more than 200,000 natural product solutions, or fractions, ready for testing against any disease.