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Tonga’s Taufa in anti-cancer compound discovery

Recent scientific research in Tongan waters has unearthed significant findings that could lead to new cure for cancer. The research was carried out by Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) PhD graduate Taitusi Taufa, who has been credited with discovering new medicinal properties in marine sponges, including several unique anti-cancer compounds.

Taufa, who graduated in May with a PhD in Chemistry, worked on this research as part of his thesis and it involved dives in various locations in Tonga.

The dive on ‘Eua Island however was the most revealing as it was marked by the discovery of unique chemical properties in marine sponges, which is believed to be more than 30 million years old and thus has an unusually unique marine environment. Being an ancient island, ‘Eua is said to be geologically unrelated to other islands in Tonga so is thought to host organisms that produce “interesting and novel chemistry,” according to Taufa.

The high standard of his work, according to VUW, “was subsequently recognised by being selected for the Doctoral Dean’s List – a formal record and public acknowledgement of doctoral graduates whose thesis have been judged by their examiners to be of exceptional quality, and whose work makes an outstanding contribution to their field of research.”

IB interviewed Taufa to shed more light on the research.

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