UJ researcher’s work aims to find drug to fight cancer
DR Banothile Makhubela’s deeply complicated scientific work saves lives. Makhubela does amazing research in chemistry and her work produces biomedicines that can assist in the treatment of cancer, malaria and HIV/Aids. Makhubela is onto something big. Very big.
Recently her research, probing of the cytotoxic mechanism of the metal-based drugs, using experimental and computer (in silico) methods, has led to a better understanding of how metal-based drugs effectively kill cancerous cells. This body of work is expected to contribute to the design of a future drug against cancer.
Makhubela is a senior lecturer and a Royal Society-African Academy of Sciences Future Leaders-African Independent Research Fellow at the Centre for Synthesis and Catalysis, hosted by the Department of Chemistry at UJ. She is also the Deputy Director of the Centre and is a World Academy of Sciences and African Academy of Sciences Young Affiliate.
Her research interests include the synthesis of new metal complexes for applications in catalysis and metallodrug discovery. The focus in catalysis is on using renewable and scalable resources, like plant biomass and carbon dioxide, to make useful products such as chemicals, fuel (blends) and functional polymers. The catalysis aspect of this research makes use of water-soluble homogeneous catalysts (to aid sustainability by catalyst recycling and re-use) and heterogenized catalysts, with the use of in situ spectroscopy and computational methods, for reaction pathway and kinetic studies.
Her research group also prepares novel platinum group metal complexes for investigation as potential biomedicines in treatment of cancer, malaria, and HIV/Aids. Makhubela is the author of about 25 peer-reviewed publications, including papers published in leading international journals such as Catalysis Science and Technology, American Chemical Society Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering and Green Chemistry. She frequently presents her research at international scientific meetings and has received several national and international scientific awards. These include the American Chemical Society Scifinder Future Leader in Chemistry Award, The World Academy of Sciences and African Academy of Sciences Young Affiliateship.
She has mentored two postdoctoral fellows, supervised 1 PhD, 12 Masters, and 16 BSc honours students and currently supervises seven PhD and nine Masters’ students. Science used to save lives Dr Banothile Makhubela UJ researcher’s work aims to find drug to fight cancer.