India Engagement for Doctoral Candidate
UKZN doctoral candidate, Ms Charlette Tiloke, will deliver an oral presentation at the 2nd International Congress of the Society for Ethnopharmacology in Nagpur, India, next month.
The 24-year-old Chatsworth student won R30 000 towards attending a conference of her choice when she presented her doctoral research at the 2014 College of Health Sciences Research Symposium at UKZN.
Tiloke’s study investigates the antiproliferative effect of Moringa oleifera (MO) leaf extract on human oesophageal cancer cells.
Tiloke discovered that the plant – commonly known as Drumstick tree – was used in South African traditional medicine and possessed high levels of vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants, with known anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective properties.
She said nanoparticles were showing huge potential in cancer therapy because they had ‘characteristic properties of being small (1-100nm)’ and were able to interact with biomolecules both on the cell surface and intracellularly.
‘Metals such as gold are readily available and these nanoparticles can be synthesised using plant extracts such as MO in a cost effective and environmentally friendly synthesis. Lung, liver and oesophageal cancers which remain largely incurable are commonly diagnosed worldwide.’
Because current drug therapies were expensive and had many side-effects, alternate cost effective therapy was being sought.
‘No studies have to date used MO leaf and flower extract to synthesise nanoparticles. Therefore this necessitates research to determine the effect of MO leaf, flower extracts and their synthesised novel nanoparticles on human carcinomas such as lung, liver and oesophageal cancer.’
Tiloke’s study on cancerous human alveolar epithelial cells (lung cancer) was published in the BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine Journal.
‘The research was upgraded to a PhD which I am currently completing.’
Tiloke said she was grateful and excited by the ‘dream come true’ of presenting her work to international delegates.
‘Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in South Africa and diagnosis is expected to increase over the next few years, which is alarming. South Africa has the highest HIV infection burden globally and studies show that surviving HIV positive individuals have a higher risk of developing cancer.’
Her research shows promise in finding complementary and alternative treatment for cancers which can be used in treatment regimes.
Tiloke has received Certificates of Merit and Deans Commendation from her undergraduate years right up until Honours where she graduated cum laude. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and excels beyond her novice research in Medical Biochemistry.
Her sporting accolades date back to high school and landed her the highest accolade (Full Blues) for sport at UKZN in 2008 – the same year she was nominated for sports woman of the year at the Institution and named Sports Union Executive of the year.
She has also captained many provincial and South African teams at tournaments.
She said research gave her the satisfaction of making a difference in people’s lives by developing novel agents and life-saving drugs. ‘I enjoy researching, analysing, interpreting and developing new ways to combat various cancers such as lung, liver and oesophageal cancer.’
Tiloke said during her undergraduate studies her current supervisors, Professor Anil Chuturgoon and Dr Alisa Phulukdaree, lectured her and sparked the flame for research. Their passion, enthusiasm and wisdom encouraged her to continue with postgraduate studies.