PhD Study Explores Alternative Treatment for Diabetes
Dr Bonisiwe Precious Mbatha was awarded a PhD in Medical Sciences (Physiology) for her study that explored whether a new transition metal complex (Dioxidovanadium) could be used as an alternative treatment for diabetes by comparing its effects to those of insulin, which is the standard drug to treat diabetes mellitus.
Diabetic patients often suffer from kidney and heart complications despite using insulin therapy. The study investigated if vanadium complex would lower blood glucose and alleviate diabetes-associated complications such as renal and cardiovascular dysfunction. The results showed that the complex was effective in lowering blood glucose in diabetic rats and was not toxic.
Mbatha is currently serving as Acting School Operations Manager in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences at UKZN. For her PhD study, she and her research group worked with the Department of Chemistry to synthesise the new complex using organic ligands to eliminate toxicity and improve efficacy. The research group has published three papers in international journals with a fourth under review.
She said, ‘I am happy and proud of this accomplishment. It’s been a challenging journey. From the time I enrolled for an honours degree and through my master’s and PhD I worked full time and studied at night due to financial constraints, while raising two children.’ She added that she learnt to manage her time properly and lean on others for support. Mbatha expressed her gratitude to her supportive supervisors, Drs Phikelelani Ngubane (UKZN), Andile Khathi (UKZN), and Ntethelelo Sibiya (Rhodes University).
‘People think that when you graduate with a PhD, you have made it or it’s the end of the journey. It is actually the beginning because now you have to apply the knowledge and expertise you’ve obtained and build something. My biggest aspiration is to expose the youth, especially those that come from disadvantaged backgrounds like myself, to the beauty of science. I aspire to be among the trailblazers in science and innovation. As to in what capacity, that is yet to be determined,’ said Mbatha.
Words: Lihle Sosibo