• Bearing fruit

    Bearing fruit

    West African plants sought out by wild chimpanzees to ease ailments ranging from worm infestations to bacterial infections could be used to treat people too.

    Research being conducted by scientists in Côte d’Ivoire includes the screening of plants such as the kroma fruit, prickly badi and zoobo leaves for possible human treatment. So far, the project has identified compounds that can kill bacterial and yeast infections in a petri dish, and even some that show signs of inhibiting cancer development.

    According to a Quartz Africa report, the project’s lead botanist Constant Ahoua – who has been studying chimp diets for a decade – screened 27 plant species eaten by wild chimps for his PhD, specifically those not used in traditional human medicine.

    Of the extracts he collected from the plants, 18% were active against bacteria and 5% against yeast. They also yielded seven compounds that inhibit cancer-triggering enzymes, two of which are completely new.

    25 July 2017
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images