Varsity tests plants to find Aids remedy

THE University of Venda's contribution to the fight against HIV-Aids has begun in earnest with its researchers now prospecting in medical plants.

The prospecting started after the Biotechnology Development and Partnership Development committed R17million funding to the university to establish a bio-prospecting programme.

BioPAD is a regional innovation centre created to meet the challenges posed by the varied needs of the region and the continent through innovative biotechnology solutions.

University spokesperson Takalani Dzaga said the funds will help the institution to strengthen its research.

"This will allow our researchers to pull their expertise in bio-prospecting to develop respective core competencies and engage in the identification of plant-derived bioactive molecules," said Dzaga.

The programme will also allow the development of human capital in different specialities such as molecular virology, organic synthesis, natural product and computational chemistry.

Dzaga said they will rely on indigenous knowledge and improve where possible to reduce the diseases in conjunction with traditional healers.

"Limpopo has a rich diversity of medicinal plants and members of different indigenous communities have tapped the medical benefits of plants for centuries," said Dzaga.