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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

Dr Chantel Swart the ‘Expert on Stage’
2013-06-04

 

Presents Extraordinary Findings at International Nanomedicine Conference.
Photo: Sonia Small
04 June 2013

Dr Chantel Swart, an alumnus of the Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, is an invited “Expert on Stage” at the 4th International Nanomedicine Conference to be held in Sydney, Australia from 1 – 3 July 2013.

She is to share the podium with world authorities in nanomedicine.

Dr Swart’s presentation, “A New Nanotechnology for Nanomedicine”, will convey findings that made international headlines. She is part of the nanotechnology group of Prof Lodewyk Kock that discovered gas bubbles inside cells when using Auger-architectomics, a nanotechnology they developed in 2010. This nanotechnology is used to track nanomedicine inside cancer cells in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic in the US.

The Kock Nanotechnology Group includes scholars from the departments of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, Physics, Chemistry, the Centre for Microscopy (all from the UFS) and South African Breweries. Their breakthrough is also showcased on the cover of all issues of 2013 FEMS Yeast Research, a leading journal in yeast research. BiotecVisions and Global Medical Discovery (GMD) both selected this work for worldwide promotion at the end of 2012.

Dr Swart’s future research will use this newly-developed nanotechnology to visualize and hence explore the exposed nano-world. This will include work on the architecture of cells and effects of various drugs on cell metabolism.

A virtual tour is available at: http://vimeo.com/user6296337/videos.

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