Heroic Women 2022 | Academia and Education | Maano Masiphephethu

Maano Masiphephethu

Academia and Education

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Maano Masiphephethu, a PhD candidate in microbiology at the University of Venda, is looking into medicinal plants that are used by traditional healers to treat tuberculosis TB. She is assessing whether the muthi does indeed kill TB, and is looking at what the plants contain, in the hope she can use it to develop alternative treatments for TB. Such a treatment would be cheaper than conventional medicines and benefit those who have developed resistance to antibiotics. The 31-year-old from Lufhule village in Venda says her research was inspired by the fact that TB treatment focused on synthetic drugs and ignored indigenous knowledge in medicinal plants that could contribute towards the development of cheaper drugs. She says she hopes her research will also ensure that the plants are protected. Her study focused on five plants – the mulubi (schotia brachypetala), mubiribiri (rauvolfia caffra), mundadzi (schinus mole), mutshetshete (known as buffalo thorn) and munembembe (senna petersiana) – which are found in the Vhembe district. Masiphephethu, who is just a few months away from submitting her thesis, said “preliminary screening has shown that mubiribiri and mundadzi have activity against TB”, explaining that this means they could treat the disease. She was one of the 39 emerging researchers that exhibited their research in a poster format or as an oral presentation at the two-day symposium at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Council’s (CSIR) seventh Emerging Research Symposium held in Pretoria last month.

Academia and Education

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