Using plants to attack diseases

Science and Plants for Schools have been busy interviewing a range of different plant scientists from around the UK to bring you the very latest in the use of plants in medical applications.

The first of their interviews is from Jess Chu, who is researching plant sciences and medicine at Nottingham University, and is focusing on the anticancer properties of rainforest plants. In this interview, she talks about her job and her career in plant science so far.

Jess says: “Over 60% of the anticancer treatments available comes from or are inspired by natural products (such as plants, marine life and bacteria). So far only 10-15% of the estimated 320,000 plant species have been investigated for their pharmaceutical purpose, so it’s quite obvious that the potential to find another good treatment is huge.”

Could you be part of this potentially life-saving research in the future?

Read about Jess’ work in her full interview, just click here.


The second interview is from Julian Ma, Professor of Molecular Immunology at St George’s Hospital Medical School.

Julian’ work involves looking at how we can make vaccines from genetically modified plants, that could protect against diseases like HIV, and especially those diseases that mainly harm the poor in developing countries.

When asked what the best thing about his job is, Julian says: “The best bit is the fact that I can think of an idea and go away,work on it, and show whether the idea’s a good one or not. It’s the freedom for me to act on the ideas I’m having by myself. Of course, at some stage I’ll have to find funding, but at the early stages I’ll think about something, do the experiment, and see if it works. If it does work, then I have to write a proposal to a funding organisation that will persuade them my idea is worth investing in. And finally, when you’re reporting your results, that’s a great part of the work, because it’s the culmination. You had the idea, you got the funding, and here’s the result. Everything is down to you, all the way through.”

Still think this is the job for you? Then click here for the full story.