Savaii....Holds key to cancer cure......

Posted in the New Zealand Forum

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#1 Apr 29, 2010
Indigenous perspectives on conservation

Although small by Amazonian standards (approximately 5000 hectares), the Tafua forest on the island of Savaii, Western Samoa, is precious because of the unique diversity of its life forms. Over 25 percent of the forest plants are found nowhere else on earth.

For hundreds of years Savaii Island, like the rest of Samoa, was, in Somerset Maugham's words, "lovely, lost and half a world away." Increasing prices of rain forest timber in the early 1970s ended that isolation. An American timber firm built a large sawmill in Asau, Savaii. Lack of experience with both the forest and the culture of Samoa eventually caused the firm to jettison the project. The sawmill, however, remained in operation under various owners, and the rain forests of Savaii continued to disappear. Now more than 80 percent of Savaii's forests are gone forever: only two large tracts of lowland rain forest remain, one of them the Tafua rain forest. Because of its proximity to the wharf, the Tafua forest offered the most lucrative logging opportunity in all of Samoa. The logging companies faced only one small problem: the paramount orator and chief, Ulu Taufa'asisina.

Samoans are gentle but determined people; but even by Samoan standards, Ulu was resolute. Although Tafua is a very poor village with no running water, electricity, or graded roads and few sources of cash from the loggers, not a single tree could be cut. The villagers begged Ulu to accept the logging companies' generous offers. How else could the village pay for a decent school for their children or a clinic for their sick and elderly? The loggers might even hire some of the villagers to work for them. Ulu's stance mystified the logging companies' representatives too. They were offering the village what would probably be its only chance for economic development.

The loggers failed to realise that no inducement could ever persuade Ulu Taufa'asisina to allow logging. When his father lay dying, Ulu had promised to honour his last wish: Ulu had pledged to protect the rain forest with his life.

Ulu Taufa'asisina has paid a price for conservation that few individuals in industrialised countries can comprehend: he has knowingly condemned his family, friends, and village to poverty rather than accept money from loggers. "Five times the logging companies have been here asking for our forest,"

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#2 Apr 29, 2010
Many indigenous cultures, in contrast, perceive the earth as existing not in the realm of the profane, but in the realm of the sacred, a world view that distinguishes them from many Western traditions. Indigenous legends emphasise the need to protect the earth not because it is useful to humans, but because it is sacred. The perception of conservation as a religious duty, of course, also serves ecological and cultural purposes.

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#3 Apr 29, 2010
Furthermore, traditional knowledge embraces Samoans view of themselves as stewards of sacred natural resources, with a special charge by Deity to protect them as their heritage. We consider our islands as “O le nuu o lo tatou tofi mai le Atua”(The land of our heritage from God) and therefore believe that our relationship with the land places upon us a sacred responsibility to kin, ancestors and Deity. These cultural values held central to the individual and collective identity of the Samoan people provide their worldview and guide all facets of their way of life

Such indigenous knowledge, carried in the vessels of culture, language, legend, myth and folklore, serves as a storehouse for local biological information. Explicit indigenous knowledge, that which is easily articulated to outsiders such as the names of reef fish, the breeding times of birds, or the use of medicinal plants, must be combined with tacit indigenous knowledge, that which we cannot easily describe to outsiders such as the deep respect Samoans have for the elderly or the process of achieving consensus within a village fono. Indeed, many of the core contributions that Samoan culture has to offer to the world is in the form of tacit knowledge. Throughout the world, explicit and tacit indigenous knowledge are of fundamental value in the management of natural resources, in the maintenance of the world’s biodiversity, and in construction of local models necessary for sustainable development. Traditional knowledge can enhance natural resource management practices, including ecological restoration, which currently are largely directed by scientific knowledge and western worldviews. In fact, traditional knowledge has been proven to provide the basis of modern scientific discoveries and continues to help facilitate new information to improve the quality of life in Samoa and the world. Turner et al. confirmed this when she claimed:“traditional knowledge has received recognition as being complementary to, equivalent with, and applicable to scientific knowledge.” But whether traditional knowledge will survive the new millennium remains a question of time.

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#4 Apr 29, 2010
Samoa's Rain Forest Savior - Looking for a cure for breast cancer, Paul Cox harnessed the wisdom of women in the forest he loved and discovered a promising anti-hiv compound instead.(Biography)
The World and I
| September 01, 2002 | Haapoja, Margaret A.

Light filters through the leafy canopy, and everywhere there is the cooing of fruit pigeons, the whisper of honeycreeper wings. Shadows and iridescence flicker on the mossy forest floor as if seen through a Gothic cathedral's rose window. Long, twisted cables of lianas and broad branches of banyan trees covered with silvery lily leaves and rare orchids shade the understory where giant tree ferns, heliconias, and seeded bananas compete for space. It is within the Falealupo rain forest on the remote Samoan island of Savaii, the largest island in Polynesia outside of Hawaii and New Zealand, that native healer Epenesa Mauigoa introduced Paul Cox to the mamala tree (Homolanthus nutans). For generations, she and other Samoan healers had used a water infusion of its bark to treat hepatitis and intestinal complaints.

Ultimately this discovery led to a promising anti-HIV compound called Prostratin, isolated by a team at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1989 and patented as an antiviral remedy. NCI requires that any firm wishing to develop the drug negotiate directly with the Samoan government for a fair and equitable return of benefits. On December 13, 2001, the AIDS Research Alliance of America (ARA), a nonprofit organization that helped speed to market eight of the current eleven anti-AIDS drugs, acquired the license from NCI and announced a landmark agreement to return 20 percent of any commercial revenues from this experimental but promising compound to the people of Samoa. "Signing this agreement for the Samoans has made me very, very happy," says Cox. "I gave my word to these people that I would protect their financial interests, so it was a great thing for me to go back to the village and say I kept my word. And I was so touched by their response. They want to return a portion of their share for conservation work in other villages."

A world-renowned ethnobotanist and executive director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai, Cox first traveled to Samoa in 1973 at the age of nineteen for two years as a Mormon missionary. After completing graduate school at Harvard in 1981, he received a five-year National Science Foundation Award that allowed him to pursue any course of study he wished. He packed up his wife and four children and returned to Savaii, the least developed of …

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#5 Apr 29, 2010
"Signing this agreement for the Samoans has made me very, very happy," says Cox. "I gave my word to these people that I would protect their financial interests, so it was a great thing for me to go back to the village and say I kept my word. And I was so touched by their response. They want to return a portion of their share for conservation work in other villages."

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#6 Apr 29, 2010
Samoa's Gift to the World
A New Way to Fight AIDS
Contact: Lynn Yarris, lcyarris@lbl.gov

In 1987, on the Samoan island of Savaii, what is now known as the Falealupo Rain Forest Preserve was about to be clear-cut out of existence by a logging company — and along with it a small tree, known to the natives as the mamala tree, to botanists as Homalanthus nutans. An ethnobotanist named Paul Alan Cox saved the mamala trees and their forest. Now, if the research of Jay Keasling, who heads the Synthetic Biology Department in Berkeley Lab's Physical Biosciences Division, goes according to the plan, AIDS victims all over the world will have cause for celebration.
Jay Keasling, a chemical engineer at the forefront of the emerging field of synthetic biology, wants to use Escherichia coli bacteria to synthesize genes from the mamala tree, which produces a promising anti-AIDS drug.
Working through Keasling, who is a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and a faculty affiliate with the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, or QB3, UC Berkely recently signed a landmark agreement with the Samoan government. The aim is to isolate the gene for prostratin, a chemical compound contained in the bark and stemwood of the mamala tree that holds enormous therapeutic potential as an anti-AIDS drug, and to share any royalties from the sale of a gene-derived drug with the people of Samoa. Under this agreement, Keasling and his research group will seek to genetically engineer a strain of Escherichia coli bacteria that can cheaply synthesize and mass-produce prostratin.
"A microbial source for prostratin will ensure a plentiful, high-quality supply if it is approved as an anti-AIDS drug," Keasling says. "I think this agreement with the Samoan government could set a precedent both for biodiversity conservation and for genetic research, by including indigenous peoples as full partners in royalties for new gene discoveries that result from their ancient medicines."

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#7 Apr 29, 2010
The story begins with Cox, who was once named a "Hero of Medicine" by Time magazine and is now the director of the Institute for Ethnobotany at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii. Ethnobotanists study the ways in which indigenous cultures use plants for medicine. Which is why in 1987 Cox, then a researcher at Brigham Young University, was sitting in a thatched hut with an elderly Samoan woman named Epenesa Mauigoa. A tribal healer, she was describing for him the 121 herbal remedies she knew. Cox became particularly interested in remedy number 37. This called for boiling the bark from the mamala tree and giving the liquid to those suffering from what Samoans call fiva sama sama and we know as viral hepatitis.
Samoan healer Ake Lilo prepares an antiviral extract from the bark of the mamala tree that he will used to treat hepatitis. The active ingredient, a chemical called prostratin, has also shown great potential for the treatment of AIDS.
Drugs with potential antiviral properties are in high demand in the medical communities of developed nations, so Cox sent samples of remedy number 37 to the National Cancer Institute. In 1992, NCI researchers identified prostratin as the active ingredient in the mamala bark and found that it was indeed an effective treatment for hepatitis. However, they also found that it had powerful and unique therapeutic effects against AIDS: not only did prostratin prevent the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from infecting human cells, it also forced dormant HIV virus particles out from hibernation within human immune cells, where they are protected from virus-killing medicines.
Today's best anti-AIDS drugs can reduce a patient's HIV populations to safe levels, but as soon as the patient stops taking the drugs, dormant viruses emerge from their immune cell sanctuaries and quickly restore HIV populations to dangerous levels. Prostratin flushes out these "viral reservoirs" so that anti-AI

“Fa'e ae Fie'uli kai 'Usi”

Since: Apr 10

Tauranga, NZ

#8 Apr 29, 2010
Thats why the world experts are rushing to Samoa....NOT...BAHAhAHAHA

I suppose samoa is the only island with these plants....NOT! BAHAHAHAHA

Another DUM THREAD! just like your mother - a dum monkey DOG!

Since: Dec 09

New Zealand

#9 Apr 30, 2010
What mimicking is your occupation....

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