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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

Romania and UFS work together on diagnostic programme
2009-04-28

 
Here are, from the left: Dr William Rae with Prof. Chirvase and Prof. Caramihai of the Romanian research team during their visit to Bloemfontein.
Photo: Supplied
 
A group of academics of Romania visited the Department of Medical Physics of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently. Proff. Mihai Caramihai and Ana Chirvase are senior researchers of the Facultatea de Automatica & Calculatoare, Universitatea Politehnica Bucuresti who are working together with Prof. Charles Herbst and Dr William Rae of the UFS on the project MAmmary Malignancy Modelling using Artificial intelligence, ROmania South Africa, or Mamma Rosa. It is part of a larger local project aimed at implementing a computer-aided diagnosis programme (CAD), designed within the UFS's Department of Medical Physics, and which will take into account some of the South African requirements for computerised diagnostic radiology support. The National Research Foundation (NRF) provided travel funding and Prof. Herbst and Dr Rae visited Bucharest in November 2008 to collaborate with the Romanians. The visiting Romanian researchers were involved in a similar project where they were planning to model the changes in tumours as they grow and as they are treated. Dr Rae says there are many synergies between the two departments. The project has many aspects and there are several possibilities for related sub-projects. As a result the UFS has been able to attract three people to be involved in the project and they will do their Ph.Ds with the UFS. On the visit to Bloemfontein the roles of the researchers in the project were defined and the programme for the three-year collaboration was established. The stimulus created as a result of this collaboration has resulted in projects that will continue for at least the next four years.

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