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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

UFS Expert: Prof Felicity Burt investigates zoonotic and arboviruses
2017-12-13


 Description: Burt read more 2 Tags: Arboviruses, Felicity Burt, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, viruses  

Prof Felicity Burt recently received a B-rating from the
National Research
Foundation.
Photo: Sonia Small

Prof Felicity Burt is from the Division of Virology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), as well as the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS). She currently holds an NRF-DST South African Research Chair in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.  Professor Burt and her research group investigate arboviruses and zoonotic viruses. 

Prof Burt’s research primarily focuses on host immune responses to arboviral infections specifically characterising humoral and cellular immune responses in patients with infections such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus and Sindbis virus; epitope discovery for development of diagnostic tools; development of molecular and serological assays for surveillance purposes; virus discovery; and the development of vaccines.

Raising awareness of these viruses, defining associated diseases, and developing tools for surveillance programmes will contribute to understanding these pathogens as well as the public health implications.

Leads research group in papilloma viruses
Arboviruses cause outbreaks of disease in South Africa annually. Outbreaks are usually associated with heavy rainfall favouring the breeding of mosquitos, but these viruses also have the capacity to spread and become endemic in new areas where competent vectors are present. 
In addition, she is leading a research group that investigates human papilloma viruses (HPV) associated with head and neck cancers and recurrent laryngeal papilloma.

The focus of this research group is to ascertain the genotypes of HPV causing these diseases, identification of novel biomarkers for early detection, and complete genome sequencing for molecular characterisation of HPV isolates.  

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