16yo Teen Praised For Probing Diabetes Cure From Berries

Story BySimon GloverSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyAsia Wire Report

Video Credit: AsiaWire/Gokongwei Brothers Foundation

A 16-year-old schoolgirl has won international recognition after discovering how the berries in her back garden could be an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Maria Isabel Layson, from Iloilo City, on Panay island in the Philippines, began her studies after losing several family members to diabetes.

She began examining the antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties of the aratilis berries (Muntingia calabura), because they grow so abundantly in her family’s back garden.

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Pictures Credit: AsiaWire/Gokongwei Brothers Foundation & AsiaWire/@zsash.layson

Alternative health practitioners and herbalists have advocated the fruit as a treatment for a number of conditions, including diabetes, for some years.

This has been supported by at least one scientific study but it is not widely used medically or prescribed by doctors, so Maria set to work on finding out more about the benefits.

Her research took her to the capital city of Manila to examine the make up of aratilis in the laboratories of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

And Maria says she has confirmed the “often neglected” berries are rich in bioactive compounds, including anthocyanin, flavonoid and polyphenol, which can lower blood sugars.

Maria’s study has now been recognised at the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) – the world’s biggest high school science contest – held this year in the US city of Pheonix, Arizona.

The Iloilo National High School pupil said: “The inspiration of my study is the several generations of my family have experienced death of a loved one because of diabetes. It is considered as one of the top causes of death.”

She hopes her research could lead to the development of cost-effective treatments for diabetes, as well as anti-diabetic supplements.

“My research won’t end here. It will actually further develop into more specific compounds. We will delve into other diseases,” she said. 

As well as ISEF recognition, Maria’s research has won her the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation Young Scientist Award and the Best Individual Research in Life Science title in the Filippino Department of Education’s 2019 National Science and Technology awards.

Netizen ‘samdee pride’ commented: “If this is real she could win a Nobel prize.. if this is true 2/3rd of world population will benefit..”, while ‘Callo Cohen’ added: “God Bless you kiddo, you’re a very smart person!”

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