Friday July 27, 2012

An officer at CSIR displaying the Sondashi formula and the capsules made thereof.

CSIR Technology and Platform Manager Dr Vinesh Maharaj

From L-R: CSIR's Innovation Scientific leader Dr Dipak Maharaj, Prof Luke Mumba, High Commissioner Mr Muyeba Chikonde and First Secretary (Protocal) Mr Nkonde Lombanya during the familiarisation tour.

SOUTH Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says laboratory tests on the Sondashi anti-HIV/AIDS herb has shown anti-HIV activity and is now ready for clinical tests on humans.

The announcement was made by CSIR’s Biosciences Executive Director Dr Joe Molete and Technology Platform Manager Dr Vinesh Maharaj last week when Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Mr Muyeba Chikonde conducted a familiarisation tour of that country’s largest research institute, CSIR.

Dr Maharaj said CSIR would now proceed to conduct mechanical studies on the herb because earlier laboratory tests on the Sondashi Formula (SF 2000) had shown anti-HIV activity.

He said capsules made from the herb had already been developed to improve patient compliance, and as a refined form on the traditional preparations Dr Ludwig Sondashi was initially using.

“To show that it can produce the same ingredients, and also to show that it has some biological effects against HIV, that has been demonstrated to this point,” Dr Maharaj said. “The next step before you could actually register such a product is to do clinical studies to show that it is safe in humans, and that’s where the capsules will be now evaluated in a clinical setting.”

Dr Maharaj said CSIR was in the process of signing an agreement on the issues to do with intellectual property and benefit sharing between all the partners involved namely CSIR, Dr Sondashi and the Zambian government, whom he said were sponsoring the clinical study partially.

He said the agreement was likely to be signed in Zambia.

“It’s a Zambian biodiversity, Zambian knowledge and so the best benefit should actually go to Zambia,” said Dr Maharaj.

And Dr Molete talked about the importance of biotechnology in value addition, adding that the South African government had in the recent few years invested over R200 million into the research institute.

Research on SF 2000 is being carried out through the NEPAD programme, SANBio network covering 12 countries in Southern Africa with the vision of utilising bioscience for socio-economic development, particularly improved health, food security and sustainable livelihoods of the people in the region.

CSIR hosts the NEPAD/SANBio; a network of Bioscience African scientists and the African Lazer Center (ALC) which is a non-exclusive partner of the African Research Institutions actively involved in laser related science and technology.

The NEPAD/SANBio network is headed by a Zambian Professor Luke Mumba, who is also the Southern Africa Network Director.

                                                       Issued by:                                                                                  

                                                  Patson Chilemba

                                               First Secretary (Press)

                                              For/High Commissioner

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