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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

Prof Tredoux turns theories regarding the formation of metals on its head
2013-09-17

 

Prof Marian Tredoux
17 September 2013

The latest research conducted by Prof Marian Tredoux of the Department of Geology, in collaboration with her research assistant Bianca Kennedy and their colleagues in Germany, placed established theories regarding how minerals of the platinum-group of elements are formed, under close scrutiny.

The article on this research of which Prof Tredoux is a co-author – ‘Noble metal nanoclusters and nanoparticles precede mineral formation in magmatic sulphide melts’ – was published in Nature Communications on 6 September 2013. It is an online journal for research of the highest quality in the fields of biological, physical and chemical sciences.

This study found that atoms of platinum and arsenic create nanoclusters, long before the mineral sperrylite can crystallise. Thus, the platinum does not occur as a primary sulphur compound. The research was conducted at the Steinmann Institute of the University of Bonn, Germany, as well as here in Bloemfontein.

Monetary support from Inkaba yeAfrica – a German-South African multidisciplinary and intercultural Earth Science collaborative of the National Research Foundation (NRF) – made this research possible. Studies are now also being conducted on other metals in the precious metal group, specifically palladium, rhodium and ruthenium.

The discovery of the nanoclusters and the combination with arsenic can have far-reaching consequences for the platinum mine industry, if it can be utilised to recover a greater amount of platinum ore and therefore less wastage ending up in mine dumps. This will signify optimal mining of a scarce and valuable metal, one of South Africa’s most important export products.

For Prof Tredoux, the research results also prove thoughts she already had some twenty years ago around the forming of platinum minerals. “Researchers laughed in my face, but the evidence had to wait for the development of technology to prove it.” Young researchers were very excited at recent congresses about the findings, since the new models can bring new insights.

“Chemistry researchers have been talking about platinum element clusters in watery environments for quite a while, but it was thought that these would not appear in magmas (molten rock) due to the high temperatures (>1 000 degrees celsius).”

Prof Tredoux has already delivered lectures at congresses in Scotland, Hungary, Sweden and Italy on this research.

Read the article at: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2013/130906/ncomms3405/full/ncomms3405.html

 

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