The National University of Lesotho (NUL) COVID-19 potential treatment proven as a future drug has passed another test in South Africa.

The potential drug compound was an initiative by a team of researchers at NUL and preliminary tests were done at the university.

On July 29 the drug compound was taken to Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Pretoria in South Africa where it has been revealed that the compound drug is active or effective against the two Coronaviruses tested namely SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV as well as for toxicity and therapeutic index.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Chief Thesele Maseribane at Roma on Monday where he said the results were received by his office on November 12 from CSIR, saying the results indicated that the mixture can actually fight the virus infection saying it is safe to animal cells and it can be a good drug candidate against COVID-19.

He therefore said the latter gives an indication of the urgent potential as a future drug for the Coronavirus.

He said as a way forward, pre-clinical and clinical trials should be undertaken to further evaluate the activity of the drug compound for use in humans saying if trials yield positive results then the drug will be introduced into the market for the treatment of COVID-19 through the NUL Innovation Hub Business Support Programme.

He emphasised that this potential drug compound is not yet a treatment for COVID-19 until it has been approved as such by relevant bodies.

Chief Maseribane expressed his gratitude to researchers of NUL and his colleagues who worked together in this project.

In his remarks, the university Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kananelo Mosito said this is an important occasion in which as a university has become part of the national and international studies to rapidly develop new drug and knowledge towards Coronavirus.

He said the pandemic has compelled researchers of higher learning institutions to perform diagnostic testing and experiments in laboratories for infectious diseases.

He added that clinical research has been vital to improving COVID-19 management, saying the global future relies on the development of effective remedy and treatment for Coronavirus.

‘It is important as we become aware that the faculty of Science and Technology in every university performs crucial part of any university and at NUL it is important being the configuration and is leading the clinical research to the treatment,’ headed.

He mentioned that COVID-19 has changed higher learning institutions in new and many ways as the university has to make efforts to prevent the contagion caused by the virus.

He noted that it is important to any university today that the advent of COVID-19 has made it possible for governments and university to work closely together, saying in the past governments used to drift away from intellectuals.

He added that NUL is working together with the government in this difficult moment of COVID-19, saying the crisis indeed precipitated by COVID-19 has opened a door of opportunity for the university to engage with society and government.

On the other hand, Dean of Faculty of Science and Technology, Professor Leboli Thamae said it is exciting to be talking about the progress on the project of national and international significance which was undertaken by some of NUL Researchers.

He said in the 2015-2020 NUL Strategic Plan, the faculty has been mandated to spearhead the Innovation Hub, saying this strategic move has elevated the university to one that does research, teaches and community service as well as indulging in innovation.

He said the drug compound is a mixture of herbal plants found in Lesotho which he said the first was tested in July and was declared non-toxic.

He expressed appreciation to the Minister of Communications. Science and Technology and his ministry for their unwavering support, saying there is a need for support of the nation to continue doing research.

He appealed for research funds from the government budget, emphasizing that there has to be a budget set aside for research only during the next financial year.

Meanwhile, pre-clinical trials will be done on rats and if that yields positive results then the extract will be tested on people who are COVID-19 positive and that will be on a voluntary basis. The trials are expected to take between six and 12 months if fund is provided and other resources.

The research team includes; Dr Lerato Seleteng- Kose, the Botanist, Mr. Motiki Beleme, the Chemical Technologist with Background in Indigenous Knowledge System, Dr Liteboho Maduna, the Medical Microbiologist, Professor Mosotho George, the Analytical Chemist and Mr. Oriel Hlokoane, the Pharmaceutical Chemist.


Source: LENA 02/12/2020


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