University of the Free State’s (UFS’s) pharmacology department plans to create South Africa’s most advanced pharmacology GLP-accredited research and development laboratory after receiving a R58 million grant.
Pharmacology director Professor Motlalepula Matsabisa has received a Department of Science and Innovation high-end infrastructure (HEI) grant to build the laboratory.
UFS’s senior director of research development Dr Glen Taylor, technology development expert consultant Dr Nico Walters and director of research development Werner Nel were part of the team that played a role in the department of pharmacology receiving the grant.
The lab will be a centre of excellence for government, the World Health Organzation (WHO) and the African Union’s (AU) Commission for Social Development.
Some of the funds are being used to build a herbal medicines manufacturing facility and a pilot a health facility for traditional medicines.
“I am excited to bring this huge grant to the UFS and look forward to the institution working effortlessly to become one of the leaders in this initiative,” said Matsabisa.
The lab will focus on local, regional and international research needs, product development and commercialisation requirements.
“The facility will be a unique place to learn, put theory into practice and develop the research from the bench to the hospital bedside,” says Matsabisa.
Laboratories will host students, researchers, and scientists
Research and development laboratories will host students, researchers, and scientists from the continent in order to strengthen bilateral African science and technology developments and collaborations while maintaining its international outlook.
“This will lead to proper drug discovery, drug development, and product development, serving a number of clients, including communities, traditional health practitioners, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as policymakers,” said Matsabisa.
“With this injection of funding and support from all our clients, the government, WHO and AU, and support from traditional health practitioners, we will develop the facilities to compete in international herbal-medicine markets,” he added.
Under Matsabisa’s leadership, the department was recently also awarded an annual Technology and Innovation Agency Platform (TIA) grant of R17 million for the next five years.
This research and teaching programme, known as African Medicines Innovations and Technologies Development (AMITD), will help to recruit and employ the best skills throughout the research, development, and herbal-medicine manufacturing value chains.
AMITD will act as a national training and capacity development facility in drug research and development, and the formulation and production of quality, safe, effective, and well-researched medicines.
“We hope to not only train students, but also technicians, researchers, and traditional health practitioners,” said Matsabisa.
Matsabisa is also leading Africa’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic after being appointed chairperson of the WHO’s regional expert advisory committee on traditional medicines for the coronavirus last year.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney
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