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14 UWindsor student-researchers earned recognition for their work on the use of natural compounds to control cells at the 12th Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada.14 UWindsor student-researchers earned recognition for their work on the use of natural compounds to control cells at the 12th Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada.

Students’ research using natural compounds to control cells wins top ranks at international conference

Some UWindsor students’ lab work on the use of natural compounds to selectively kill cancer cells and to slow brain cell death in Parkinson’s disease patients earned them recognition recently at a natural and synthetic health research conference in London.

The 14 researchers, who work under the supervision of chemistry and biochemistry professor Siyaram Pandey, presented their work at the 12th Natural Health Product Research Society of Canada (NHPRS) conference - a forum that focuses on the scientific validation of many natural products to help bring them closer to patient use.

Dennis Ma received first prize for best poster presentation; Krithika Muthukumaran received second prize for best Oral Presentation; and the third prize for best Oral Presentation went to Daniel Tarade.

According to Ma, their lab work on Anti Cancer and Parkinson projects is in line with the NHPRS’ goals, as they focus on the use of natural and synthetic compounds modeled of natural compounds, and natural extracts to selectively kill cancer cells or save brain cells inParkinson’s models,while minimizing toxicity to normal healthy cells.

Ma’s poster “the anti-cancer activity of synthetic analogues of the natural compound pancratistatin -a compound isolated from the Hawaiian Spider Lily, has demonstrated promising findings.

“My studies have shown these synthetic compounds to be effective in killing over 26 different cancers tested in both cell and animal models with minimal toxicity in various non-cancerous cells and in mice,” says Ma.

Ma has been working on his research for a few years, and had to be very selective and choose results that best highlighted the main outcomes and selling points of his work.

“I've put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this research…,” he says, “so it's hard to condense all that work and fairly represent the project's entirety in just one poster.”

As there were presenters from all over Canada, Mexico, India, and the United states who all shared their work and ideas in this field, Ma and his team felt honored to receive these awards.

“I was glad to see the work from our university stand up against the research of larger institutions,” he says, “our university is still growing but this shows we are quite capable conducting high quality research.”

Dr. Pandey, who was the NHPRS president from 2013 until this August 2015, says he received many compliments on UWindsor’s presentations, something he is truly proud of.