S.R.O.S. in hunt for local medicinal plants

The Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.) is continuing its work to test the medicinal value of local plants as the hunt continues for cures to various illnesses.

The organisation’s Chief Executive Officer, Seuseu Dr. Joseph Edward Tauati, told Samoa Observer in a telephone interview that it is business as usual as the SROS continues its study of local plants to find cures for various diseases.

He said the organisation continues its work through the Biodiversity Centre and they have collected a large specimen of local plants for their research.

“What S.R.O.S is looking at is can we find our own natural sources of these medicines from our local environment and that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said.

“And we’ve been collecting the plants, processing them using usual standards of research and identifying which ones are possible that we have a list of.”

In terms of their work, Seuseu said their scientists are trialing antibiotics for Type 2 diabetes, but no further details can be given due to intellectual property protocols.

“A lot of people have been asking us for the information and we’re holding back to providing the actual list which belongs to the people of Samoa,” he added.

According to Seuseu, there is a danger of other countries with similar weather to Samoa replicating and extracting these plants’ medicinal value, if their details were publicly released to the media including Samoa Observer.

While the world awaits the discovery of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, a lot of Samoans are looking for homegrown solutions to medical crises such as the global pandemic.

The SROS has fielded questions in the past on whether they can work to find a cure for cancer, added Seuseu, but the organisation can only work when it has actual cancer cells in its laboratory. 

“We’ve been asked that many times but the thing is, just like cancer, when we are looking into cancer, we actually need the cancer cells in our laboratory so we can get the solution and touch into the cancer and see what it does,” he said. “So that means that particular work, we need to actually bring the virus into the country and for us to do it and obviously if we try to think of it.”

Seuseu said their analysis and study of a cancer cell cannot be done without a virus.

“You can’t just do it without the virus. It has to be in the same vicinity to get the solution.”

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