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

Newly operational sequencing unit in genomics at UFS
2016-09-09

Description: Next Generation Sequencing  Tags: Next Generation Sequencing

Dr Martin Nyaga and his research assistant,
Tshidiso Mogotsi in the Next Generation
Sequencing Laboratory.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) unit at the UFS was established as an interdisciplinary facility under the Directorate for Research Development, Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

The aim of the NGS facility is to aid internal and external investigators undertaking studies on Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, assembly and bioinformatics approaches using the more advanced Illumina MiSeq NGS platform.

The NGS unit became operational in 2016 and is managed by Dr Martin Nyaga and administered through the office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, under the leadership of Prof Gert Van Zyl. Dr Nyaga has vast experience in microbial genomics, having done his PhD in Molecular Virology.

He has worked and collaborated with globally recognised centres of excellence in Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic genomics, namely the J. Craig Venter Institute and the Laboratory of Viral Metagenomics, Rega Institute, among others.

The unit has undertaken several projects and successfully generated data on bacterial, viral and human genomes. Currently, work is ongoing on bacterial and fungal metagenomics studies through 16S rRNA sequencing.

In addition, the unit is also working on plasmid/insert sequencing and whole genome sequencing of animal and human rotaviruses. The unit has capacity to undertake other kinds of panels like the HLA, Pan-cancer and Tumor 15 sequencing, among others.

Several investigators from the UFS including but not limited to Prof Felicity Burt, Prof Wijnand Swart, Dr Frans O’Neil, Dr Trudi O'Neill, Dr Charlotte Boucher, Dr Marieka Gryzenhout and Dr Kamaldeen Baba are actively in collaboration with the NGS unit.

The unit has also invested in other specialised equipment such as the M220 Focused-ultrasonicator (Covaris), 2100 Bioanalyzer system (Agilent) and the real-time PCR cycler, the Rotor-Gene Q (Qiagen), which both the UFS and external investigators can use for their research.

Investigators working on molecular and related studies are encouraged to engage with Dr Nyaga on how they would like to approach their genomics projects at the UFS NGS unit. 

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