Cum Laude Chemistry Graduate Investigates Plants for Anti-HIV Activity
An investigation of the phytochemical structures of three medicinal South African plants, specifically evaluating their isolated compounds for anti-HIV activity, resulted in Mr Wonder Mpapane graduating with his Master’s in Chemistry cum laude degree.
Using the indigenous plants Hypericum roeperianum (Hypericaceae), Gnidia polyantha (Thymelaeaceae) and Gnidia splendens (Thymelaeaceae), Mpapane was able to isolate 10 known compounds and two new ones. All were successfully tested for antiviral activity and cytotoxic effects, preliminary studies suggesting that six compounds are potential inhibitors of HIV-1 at the concentration used, although at high concentrations they showed some toxicity to the MT-4 cells.
‘This investigation has confirmed that South African flora are a potential source of anti-HIV compounds,’ said Mpapane.
Mpapane chose to study Chemistry because he says it is a science visible in the world around us, from the water we drink to the food we eat to the clothes we wear.
‘Chemistry is a central science because it connects other sciences to each other; biology to geology to environmental sciences to physics,’ said Mpapane.
‘I’ve enjoyed the opportunity it has presented to develop scientific theories, conduct research and understand the world around me.’
Mpapane, who moves on to start his PhD, thanked his supervisor, Professor Fanie van Heerden, and the academic and technical staff in the Discipline of Chemistry.