10 April 2014 Volume :2 Issue :18

UKZN Study set to Revolutionise TB Detection Technology

UKZN Study set to Revolutionise TB Detection Technology
PhD graduate, Dr Mantha Makume’s study produces a novel way to diagnose TB.

Dr Mantha Makume who graduated with a PhD in Medical Microbiology from UKZN’s College of Health Sciences says her research has the potential to revolutionise TB detection technology.

Her thesis was titled: “The Development and Implementation of the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Rapid Detection Assay Using Reporter Mycobacteriophages”.

Tasked to develop an assay that would make it simpler, easier and cheaper to detect TB in patient samples, Makume collaborated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine research group in the United States to genetically manipulate bacteriophages to give off a signal, if and when TB bacteria were found in samples.

‘It is a novel way of diagnosing TB, which in turn will aid in getting patients treatment sooner. Also, the cost of doing such an assay will benefit those who do not have the money for more expensive tests,’ she said.

A lot of work and patience was required to develop something substantial, something that has clear potential for the country and continent as a whole,’ she said.

Makume is currently in the beginning phase of her Post-Doctoral Fellowship.

‘The project I was involved in with my PhD is so important that Professor A.W. Sturm and I found it worthwhile to see it through to the end,’ she said.

Makume’s interests have always been in education, especially of young Black girls, introducing them to the wider academia and science as a whole.

Her other interests include public health and policy-making in the public health arena: ‘Our health system in South Africa is making strides and I would like to be part of a team that takes it to a level of excellence.’

Both her parents are academics and have instilled in her the love of learning.  ‘My family has been my greatest support and given me the space to explore my love of science. I feel like I have been having fun the past few years of my academic life. The passion I have for laboratory work has helped me through the tough times when experiments don’t work,’ she said. 

‘The amount of passion one has for one’s chosen field of interest will always translate to high achievement. It is important to me that scientists be able to translate their research into something the community can understand and appreciate, or why are we doing it in the first place?’

-       Nombuso Dlamini


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