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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

Eunice wins National Astronomy Quiz
2007-10-30

 

A team from Eunice Primary School won the National Astronomy Quiz last week. The team, who won the Free State leg of the competition held at the University of the Free State's Boyden Observatory, competed against five other teams from Soshanguve and Muldersdrift in Gauteng, Springbok in the Northern Cape, Khayelitsha in the Western Cape and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal. The competition, held at the Hartebeeshoek Radio Observatory near Krugersdorp, is presented by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), an agency of the National Research Foundation (NRF). SAASTA aims to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering and technology in South Africa. Staff from the UFS Boyden Observatory provided advice and assistance to the Eunice team. Here are, from the left: Naomi Steinberg, Ms Mia Zeelie (team coach and teacher at Eunice Primary School), Jacquis Ras, Jodie Muller, Pragya Dawadi and Ms Ina Roos (Organiser of the National Astronomy Quiz from SAASTA).
Photo: Supplied

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