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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Nuclear Medicine on the forefront of cancer research
2017-07-10

Description: Nuclear Medicine on the forefront of cancer research Tags: Nuclear Medicine, cancer research, Dr Je’nine Horn-Lodewyk’s, tumour detection method, cancer, Department of Nuclear Medicine 

Dr Je’nine Horn-Lodewyk’s tumour detection method
could be the cost-effective breakthrough needed to decrease
the mortality rate in breast cancer patients.
Photo: Anja Aucamp

The field of Nuclear Medicine in South Africa and the rest of the world are expanding rapidly due to the development of hybrid cameras and new radiopharmaceuticals. These developments have a huge impact on the diagnosis and therapy of cancer.

The most advanced of these cameras, Positron emission tomography combined with normal CTs (PETCT), are not yet widely available in South Africa due to the cost of the cameras and the radiopharmaceuticals. A more cost-effective alternative can be of great benefit. To achieve this, the focus should be on developing new radiopharmaceuticals that can be used with the current cost-effective gamma cameras, according to University of the Free State researcher, Dr Je’nine Horn-Lodewyk from the Department of Nuclear Medicine.

Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG), a radiolabelled glucose analogue, is currently the radiopharmaceutical most commonly used in PET/CT imaging for mainly oncology indications. Although it is considered the gold standard for imaging in several malignancies, it does have certain disadvantages. An 18F-FDG PET/CT diagnostic imaging study can cost between R25 000 and R35 000 for a single patient in the private sector. The 18F-FDG is also more radioactive, which requires much stricter handling and shielding to avoid high radiation dosages to staff and patients.

Successful research potential innovative solution
In the search for the ideal radiopharmaceutical for tumour detection, the South African National Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) developed a local synthesis process for ethylenedicysteine-deoxyglucose (EC-DG). EC-DG is also a glucose analogue similar to FDG. They succeeded in labelling the compound with Technetium-99-metastable-pertechnetate (99mTcO4-), the most common nuclear medicine isotope used for approximately 95% of nuclear medicine procedures, creating 99mTc-EC-DG.

In partnership with Dr Horn-Lodewyk, this compound was successfully used in various animal models and clinical scenarios, resulting in approval by the Medicine Control Council to use it in a human study. Research is also planned in order to investigate diagnostic accuracy in other cancers like lymphoma.  The end result of this research can produce a radiopharmaceutical that is cost effective, does not require the use of costly specialised equipment, has no significant side-effects, no special patient preparation, renders late imaging possible, and has decreased radiation risks.

Dr Horn-Lodewyk is grateful for the support of her mentor, Prof Anton Otto, as well as Dr Gert Engelbrecht, Head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine, Prof Jan Rijn Zeevaart from North-West University’s Preclinical Drug Development Platform and Necsa, and Judith Wagener from Necsa. This innovative research would also not have been possible without the financial assistance of Dr Glen Taylor and Eleanor van der Westhuizen in the Directorate of Research Development.

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