DUT and UKZN team up to fight Covid-19
A research project conducted by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UZKN) into a study to find bioactive properties from South African plants that could possibly be used in the developing treatment or a cure for Covid-19, scientifically know as SARS-CoV-2.
This is a two-phase project, the first part was the exploration section, named ‘Identification of potential SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors from South African medicinal plant extracts using molecular modeling approaches’.
There is no specific cure or vaccine for the pandemic and the currently known way to treat people with the virus has been strategically focusing on dealing with symptomatic control and give supportive therapy. With known treatment, there have been some discovery attempts of a potential treatment, with medicinal plants slowly becoming important in the research.
This first part was started 6 months ago and has concluded, which was newly published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information under PubMed Central. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7437493/
The Dean and Head of health sciences, and head of the molecular bio-computation and drug design laboratory, Professor Mahmoud Soliman from UZKN, discovered that 29 compounds that are present in South African native plants used for traditional medicinal reasons. Professor Soliman said the process that entailed molecular modeling identified arabic acid, L-canavanine, uzarin, and hypoxoside show ‘more positive results’ in fighting the virus.
He added that the selected traditional plants are known to be of help and are used in our communities.
Dr. Depika Dwarka from DUT’s department of biotechnology and food technology, a leader of the project said that the study was the first to scientifically investigate South Africa’s local plants for treatment to combat the coronavirus.
“Consequently, these compounds could serve as a starting point for the discovery of a novel SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic,” said Dr. Dwarka.
The second part of the experimentation is on-going and focuses on the in-vitro (in the glass) antiviral activity of the compounds identified as possible inhibitors.