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Young Filipina Discovers ‘Aratiles’ Plant Can Be Used To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes




  • A Filipina student scientist discovered that Jamaican cherry, locally known as aratiles plant, can prevent type 2 Diabetes.
  • Maria Isabel Layson competed at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • She discovered that the aratiles fruit is a source of antioxidants.

A student from Iloilo National High School discovered that the Jamaican cherry, widely known in the Philippines as aratiles, can potentially cure type 2 diabetes. Maria Isabel Layson was a contender at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which was held in Phoenix, Arizona.

She was one of the 1,800 young scientists from more than 80 countries to compete at the event. The 16-year-old high school student was one of the awardees at the 2019 ISEF for her discovered potential anti-diabetic components in the aratiles fruit (Muntingia calabura). There were 11 other Filipino delegates at the said event.

Layson chose the much-overlooked plant to focus her study on. The aratiles can be found in tropical countries like Bolivia, Mexico, and the Philippines.

The young student discovered that even though the plant has been studied for over two decades, no particular study has really tapped its full potential.

Being a student from Iloilo City, Layson had to travel several times to Manila to do her experiments at the Food and Nutrition Research Institute laboratory. She later found out that the fruit is a good source of antioxidants and in “practical application that can be directed towards the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus through the prevention of postprandial hyperglycemia.”

Layson said in an interview:

“I studied the Aratiles fruit or Sarisa to address diabetes. The conclusion of this study is that all of the plant parts of the Sarisa fruit contains anti-oxidants, which could help because of its anti-diabetic properties.”

International prizes were bagged by Krithik Ramesh of Colorado. Two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards were also given to Allison Jia of California and Rachel Seevers of Kentucky while the Craig R. Barrett Award for Innovation was presented to Shriya Reddy of Michigan.

Although she did not win in the competition, Layson said she was honored to represent the country in the international fair.

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