Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2019 2020
Previous Archive
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

Researchers focus on parrots, poultry and phage therapy
2014-10-10

Photo: en.wikipedia

Veterinary biotechnology focuses on microbial and molecular biological approaches to veterinary illnesses. The group working on veterinary biotechnology research at the University of the Free State (UFS) consists of two academic staff members, Prof Rob Bragg and Dr Charlotte Boucher, two post-doctoral fellows, Drs Chris Theron and Arina Hitzeroth, five PhD and three honours students.

The group has three research focus areas.

Dr Boucher says, “Our main focus area is infectious coryza in poultry, caused by the bacterium Avibacterium paragalliarum. The aim is the control of the disease, mainly through improvement of vaccines, understanding the immune response and improved biosecurity. A key objective is improving methods for serotyping; studying of selected surface antigens and investigating the influence recently discovered bacteriophages might have on virulence. We have co-operative projects with research groups in China, India and Israel.

“The second focus area is an expression system co-developed with the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA), France. The flagship project is the expression of the coat protein gene of the beak and feather disease virus, a disease affecting parrots, currently threatening the endangered Cape parrot. This system has led to the development of serological tests, currently under patenting. The application of this system has been extended to human-related diseases, with two interdisciplinary projects underway, co-working with Profs Muriel Meiring and Felicity Burt. Prof Meiring is working on diseases causing bleeding disorders, such as blood-clotting impairment, while Prof Burt is working on viral infections causing haemorrhagic (bleeding) disorders.

“We are also researching disease control in a post-antibiotic era, investigating the potential of phage-therapy by targeting and destroying pathogenic islands within a host, with reduced side-effects on the host itself.

“We have smaller projects, including an interdisciplinary project with Zoology, looking at the protein profile of amphibian (frog) secretions with the focus on antimicrobial activity, as these secretions assist with protecting amphibian skin against infections.”  


We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept