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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

Rare tumour removed in groundbreaking surgery
2011-08-06

 

Mr Carel Botes and Prof. Francis Smit with a model of the human heart
Photo: Earl Coetzee

A team of surgeons, headed by Prof Francis Smit, Head of our Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at our Faculty of Health Sciences, performed open heart surgery on a male patient with a malignant tumour.

What makes this operation unique, is that the suspicious mass that was identified in the heart was a rapidly growing and a highly invasive cardiac tumour, which has only been seen in a small number of patients worldwide.

Without the necessary surgery or heart transplant, the prognosis of the patient would have been zero.

The patient, Mr Carl Botes, a 51-year-old farmer from Hoopstad, opted for the tumour to be removed rather than having a heart transplant.  Although both options would involve major risks and challenges, the transplant was the least feasible due to logistics, the waiting list for recipients and the lack of donors.

In the, highly complex, 10-hour operation, performed in the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein, the entire right heart chamber had to be removed and the heart reconstructed.

After prolonged hospitalisation of five weeks, Mr Botes was discharged.

Currently he is fully functional and continuing with his active lifestyle.  After three months, all investigations and scans indicate that he is doing very well and has no complaints of fatigue, shortness of breath and palpitations – symptoms which occurred before the removal of the tumour.

For further information contact:
Prof Francis Smit
051-4053861
smitfe@ufs.ac.za
 

Media Release
6 August 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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