School of Life Sciences Gets Cutting Edge Equipment
A Senior Lecturer in UKZN’s School of Life Sciences, Dr Mogie Singh, has managed to secure funds from the National Research Foundation (NRF) through the National Equipment Programme (NEP), the National Nanotechnology Equipment Programme (NNEP) and the University Research Office for the purchase of Nanosight NS500 equipment.
The Nanoparticle tracking and characterisation system is the first in Africa and was purchased primarily to visualize, characterise, and measure particle size distribution, fluorescent labelling and zeta potential. It addresses the needs of a wide variety of applications including protein aggregation, exosome and microvesicle research, and gene /drug delivery systems. It contributes to characterisation under the new EU Definition of Nanomaterials, and is also suited to the analysis of particles labeled with fluorescent quantum dots.
Singh said: ‘In the Non-Viral Gene Delivery laboratory it will be routinely used in the training of young scientists adding to the development of human resource capacity. Research is being undertaken in the treatment of cancers using nanoparticles for delivery of genes/drugs. Hence physicochemical characterisation of these nanoparticle carriers and their complexes is crucial for future clinical application.’
Currently the equipment is located in the Non-Viral Gene Delivery laboratory in the Discipline of Biochemistry within the School of Life Sciences.
Singh emphasised that the instrument had a tremendous multi-user capacity and said researchers from the medical, pharmaceutical, chemical, biological or engineering fields who are undertaking work on nanoparticles would be able to utilise the instrument.
Training was conducted in the latter part of 2014 and students from the Discipline of Biochemistry who have started using the instrument were extremely pleased with the capabilities and information generated for their research output.
PhD student Miss Saffiya Habib said: ‘The equipment presents a more complete characterisation of nanoparticles than was possible with conventional methods of electron microscopy and DLS previously used in our lab. Furthermore, its user-friendly software, capacity for automation, fluorescence detection and measurement has extended the possibilities for the design of new experiments.’