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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

Kovsie conquers Googlefest Zurich pitching competition
2014-07-29

  

Marlize Holtzhauzen
Photo: Supplied

Marlize Holtzhauzen, a final-year Business Management and Leadership student at the UFS Business School, was recently awarded the 1st prize at the Google pitching competition in Zurich, Switzerland.

Holtzhauzen’s winning entry, Rapid Response, is a mobile application for use in emergency situations. In an emergency the application allows the phone to be used as a panic button which contacts emergency services and notifies the family of the user. The app, co-founded by Gerrit Cloete, was selected as one of 10 South African technology start-ups. These were part of the Swiss South African Business Development Programme under the auspices of the Swiss South African Joint Research Programme.

Since its launch on 1 July 2014, the Rapid Response app has had over 400 downloads and is available on app stores. It has also stirred interest in Europe and the USA and is already in use in Southern and East Africa. Holtzhauzen says good team work and a great product will ensure the success of this start-up in the future.

Other South African entries included Drew van der Riet from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN): Advanced Prosthetics Engineering. Gavin Jones of the University of Cape Town (UCT) also entered. He is a Technology Commercialisation practitioner candidate working on the commercialisation of a UCT innovation for the rehabilitation of stroke patients.

For more information contact Marlize on +27(0)83 3270 177 or visit the website www.rapidresponse.co.za .


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