Technology Innovation Agency

Durban, South Africa

Technology Innovation Agency

Durban, South Africa

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News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

The North-West University (NWU) has started a project that may culminate in the local manufacture of affordable artificial limbs. The NWU’s Faculty of Engineering, in Potchefstroom, is trying its hand at designing and manufacturing prosthetic limbs, with the aim of selling them at a fraction of the usual price, explains NWU School of Mechanical Engineering lecturer and project manager CP Kloppers. “Losing a limb is a traumatic experience. It implies astronomical medical bills, and the last thing you would want to worry about is sufficient funds to afford a prosthetic limb.” The NWU project was the brainchild of a colleague of Kloppers, Danie Vorster. “I know we have the necessary expertise and, even though we lack experience, it is still worth trying,” notes Vorster. The project was kickstarted when Kloppers reached out to Theunis Nel, former TV presenter of the motorbike programme Woema. Nel was, in 2014,  involved in a serious motorbike accident in which he lost his right arm. “Theunis and I sat around a table and discussed our initiative to manufacture prosthetic limbs. He was very positive about it and I immediately offered to build him a prosthetic arm as a pilot project,” explains Kloppers. Kloppers decided to use the NWU’s R2.5-million three-dimensional (3D) printer to design and build a prosthetic arm that would fit Nel. “We were able to borrow a prosthetic arm from one of Theunis's friends. He imported it from Canada a few months ago, at a price tag of almost R60 000. “We examined the arm in our workshop for three months. We reverse-engineered the arm by taking it apart, measuring, drawing and redesigning all the parts. We are still in the process of manufacturing the arm, but it looks like it may be a major success,” says Kloppers. He says there is strict legislation in place when it comes to the design and manufacturing of prostheses, and that the final product will have to be examined and approved by an orthotist and a prosthetist. “We have already contacted these specialists, who are keeping a close eye on our design and manufacturing process.” According to NWU’s planning, the prosthesis should be ready and approved in the second half of the year. “We have designed and made a prototype from plastic and aluminium, and it works perfectly,” says Kloppers. “The idea is to manufacture a prosthesis that is suited to the local market. We don’t want to use any electronic components, but rather strong, simple components that will last exceptionally long.” The NWU School of Mechanical Engineering has already clinched seed funding from the Technology Innovation Agency. “We are still in the development phase, and will follow this up with an effort to commercialise the product,” says Kloppers. He believes the project will spend another year in the development phase.


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: www.engineeringnews.co.za

The annual budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) remains stable, in real terms. “It’s in line with inflation,” DST director-general Dr Phil Mjwara told Engineering News Online at a press briefing on Tuesday. “It’s not declining, it’s not growing.” However, exchange rate volatility did have an impact as rand weakness drove up the costs of acquiring scientific and research equipment from abroad. In response to a question from another journalist, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said “[w]e do know we [the country] are going through a low growth phase at the moment. We are working hard at the DST to contribute to increased growth through new industries and products.” Funding was not at the level that the Department would like, and it was working on developing international partnerships to access foreign funding. “We do rather well in that regard,” she observed. “We are also pursuing a number of initiatives with the private sector.” The DST was also encouraging other government departments, and not just at national level, to invest in innovation. She cited the example of the Gauteng provincial government’s support of the Innovation Hub in Pretoria. “Really, what you do is not rely on what comes out of national revenue.” In her formal statement at the briefing, Pandor reported that her department’s budget for 2017/18 was R7.5-billion. “[T]he Department will maintain a clear focus on human capital development and the continuous modernisation of research infrastructure,” she assured. The DST was heavily involved in achieving four, in particular, outcomes desired by the country’s Medium Term Strategic Framework. These are Outcome 2 (a “long and healthy life for all South Africans”); Outcome 4 (“decent employment through inclusive growth”); Outcome 5 (a “skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path”); and Outcome 6 (an “efficient, competitive, and responsive economic infrastructure network”). To ensure the transformation of the country’s human capital, at least 80% of post-graduate bursaries awarded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) would go to black students, 55% to women and 4% to people with disabilities. This transformation, she stated, was a requirement for sustainable growth. The assignment of the DST’s 2017/18 budget is as follows: research development and support (which funds research, researchers and research infrastructure) gets R4.3-billion. Socioeconomic innovation partnerships (which are focused on fighting poverty and creating sustainable jobs, human settlements and service delivery) is assigned R1.6-billion. Technology innovation (under which rubric fall the Technology Innovation Agency, or TIA, and the National Intellectual Property Management Office) receives R1.1-billion. International Cooperation and Resources gets R128.7-million and administration is allocated R383.7-million. The Parliamentary grants allocated to agencies reporting to the DST are – the NRF: R926-million; the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: R916-million; the Human Sciences Research Council: R305-million; the TIA: R397-million; the Academy of Science of South Africa: R25-million; and the South African National Space Agency: R131-million. These entities can and do also receive separate funding for specific projects. “Our theme for this year’s budget vote is ‘The Oliver Tambo legacy – positioning the national system of innovation for the future’,” affirmed Pandor. “OR Tambo wasn’t just a luminary of our struggle for freedom; he was also an outstanding mathematics and science teacher.”


Novel compound is active across the entire parasite lifecycle and holds great promise as a single dose cure A new paper published today in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine describes the discovery and biological profiling of an exciting new anti-malarial clinical drug candidate, MMV390048, effective against resistant strains of the malaria parasite, and across the entire parasite lifecycle, with the potential to cure and protect in a single dose. The research was conducted by the University of Cape Town (UCT)'s Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D, and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), in collaboration with a team of international researchers. The paper is the first full disclosure of data demonstrating the antimalarial promise of MMV390048 (also known as MMV048), a compound discovered by an international team led by Professor Kelly Chibale at UCT and MMV. "The ability of MMV048 to block all life cycle stages of the malaria parasite, offer protection against infection as well as potentially block transmission of the parasite from person to person suggests that this compound could contribute to the eradication of malaria, a disease that claims the lives of several hundred thousand people every year," said Professor Chibale, Founder and Director of H3D, founding Director of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Drug Discovery Research Unit at UCT, and senior author of the paper. In 2014, MMV048 became the first new antimalarial medicine to enter phase I human studies in Africa. Today, preparations are being made to begin phase IIa human trials on this promising compound as a single-dose cure. "This compound has enormous potential," said Dr David Reddy, MMV's CEO. "In addition to the exciting characteristics noted, it has the potential to be administered as a single dose, which could revolutionize the treatment of malaria. At MMV, we look forward to continuing our work in partnership with Professor Chibale and colleagues at UCT to pursue the development of this and future next-generation antimalarials." The project has benefited from sustained funding from MMV, the South African Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) unit of the SAMRC. MMV's support has also been critical in helping H3D build and reinforce their scientific networks of drug discoverers and understand the compound's role in blocking the transmission of the malaria parasite. Despite the positive impact of medication, indoor spraying with insecticides and the use of insecticide bed-nets, around 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation's World Malaria Report. The paper said resistance to treatment regimens still posed a threat and highlighted the importance of developing treatments containing new chemical classes with different modes of action. Contacts: Professor Kelly Chibale, Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D), University of Cape Town via Saroja Naicker - saroja.naicker@uct.ac.za +27 21 6501433 (office) or Kim Cloete cloetek@yahoo.co.uk +27 82 4150736 (mobile) H3D is Africa's first integrated drug discovery and development centre. H3D was founded at the University of Cape Town in April 2011 and pioneers world-class drug discovery in Africa. The vision of H3D is to be the leading organisation for integrated drug discovery and development on the African continent. H3D strives to discover and develop innovative, life saving medicines through excellence in interdisciplinary, translational science. According to the World Health Organisation's World Malaria Report, there were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015, with 90% of cases occurring in the WHO Africa region. In 2015, there were an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths worldwide, with 92% of these deaths occurring in Africa. Children under five are particularly susceptible to malaria illness, infection and death. In 2015, malaria killed an estimated 303,000 under-fives globally, including 292,000 children in the African region. Issued by Kim Cloete on behalf of H3D, University of Cape Town. +27 82 4150736; cloetek@yahoo.co.uk


Franken J.,Stellenbosch University | Burger A.,Stellenbosch University | Burger A.,Technology Innovation Agency | Swiegers J.H.,Stellenbosch University | Bauer F.F.,Stellenbosch University
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology | Year: 2015

Industrial synthesis of l-carnitine is currently performed by whole-cell biotransformation of industrial waste products, mostly d-carnitine and cronobetaine, through specific bacterial species. No comparable system has been established using eukaryotic microorganisms, even though there is a significant and growing international demand for either the pure compound or carnitine-enriched consumables. In eukaryotes, including the fungus Neurospora crassa, l-carnitine is biosynthesized through a four-step metabolic conversion of trimethyllysine to l-carnitine. In contrast, the industrial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacks the enzymes of the eukaryotic biosynthesis pathway and is unable to synthesize carnitine. This study describes the cloning of all four of the N. crassa carnitine biosynthesis genes and the reconstruction of the entire pathway in S. cerevisiae. The engineered yeast strains were able to catalyze the synthesis of l-carnitine, which was quantified using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (HILIC-ESI-MS) analyses, from trimethyllysine. Furthermore, the yeast threonine aldolase Gly1p was shown to effectively catalyze the second step of the pathway, fulfilling the role of a serine hydroxymethyltransferase. The analyses also identified yeast enzymes that interact with the introduced pathway, including Can1p, which was identified as the yeast transporter for trimethyllysine, and the two yeast serine hydroxymethyltransferases, Shm1p and Shm2p. Together, this study opens the possibility of using an engineered, carnitine-producing yeast in various industrial applications while providing insight into possible future strategies aimed at tailoring the production capacity of such strains. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INT-01-2015 | Award Amount: 999.95K | Year: 2016

The STI cooperation between the EU and South Africa as originally framed by the South Africa-EU Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement and as constantly steered by the JSTCC requires a support mechanism which can translate and facilitate policy decisions, and provide intelligence and information services to various actors and stakeholders. In previous years the ESASTAP project series (ESASTAP, ESASTAP-2 and ESASTAP\) has successfully provided this support to the bilateral dialogue. The proposed ESASTAP 2020 project is a coordination and support action that aims at advancing further the EU-SA bilateral STI cooperation, building on the work and results of three preceding actions and responding to the needs and recommendations at the policy dialogue level, in particular to the mandate of the JSTCC and to the adopted Roadmap for cooperation between South Africa and the European Union. The project aims to provide efficient services on three levels (priority areas): a. R&I Cooperation in areas of common interests (Horizon 2020 and others). b. Policy Dialogue between EU and SA and by increasing the knowledge of the EUs external environment. c. Provision of a Cooperation platform and tools to alleviate obstacles. These priority areas translate into four major objectives through which the project is aiming to address the specific challenges of the call.


Dlamini Z.,Mangosuthu University of Technology | Ntlabati P.,Merck And Co. | Mbita Z.,University of Limpopo | Shoba-Zikhali L.,Technology Innovation Agency
Experimental and Molecular Pathology | Year: 2015

Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4), a mammalian mitochondrial serine kinase has emerged as an interesting candidate for diabetes therapy. Due to the high prevalence of this disease especially type 2 diabetes (T2D) and the health complications associated with it, there is extensive effort to find the appropriate treatment. Understanding the regulation of PDK4 activity would therefore contribute significantly to the development of therapeutic agents. This research outlines the utilization of bioinformatics tools such as Interweaver, ClustalW and Protein Structure Visualizer, in order to predict proteins that potentially interact with PDK4 and possibly regulate its activity. Interweaver database identified 96 proteins that have possible interaction sites for PDK4. Protein p100/p49, containing a death domain that is known to have a role in suppressing apoptosis, was identified as a potential partner for PDK4. The alignment between p100/p49 primary sequence and that of PDK4 using ClustalW demonstrated sequence similarity between the two proteins. Swiss PDB Viewer then located the positions of the amino acids that are in the hypothetical protein binding motif of p100/p49 within the 3D structure of hPDK4. These amino acids were found to be located in the region of PDK4 which is known to bind protein substrates of PDK4 and may be accessible to other proteins as well. These findings were very interesting as PDK4 has not previously been associated with apoptosis and this could be the link between apoptosis and insulin resistance. Cell biology studies were then performed to verify the relationship between PDK4 and apoptosis. In this regard, HeLa and HepG2 cells were treated with apoptosis-inducing agents such as TNFα, C2-ceramide, and linoleic acid. These cells were then monitored for apoptosis and PDK4 mRNA expression using a DNA laddering assay as well as Real Time PCR. The results showed that these factors induced apoptosis in a concentration dependent manner and suppressed PDK4 mRNA levels. These findings suggested a relationship between PDK4 and apoptosis. © 2015.


PubMed | University of Limpopo, Technology Innovation Agency, Merck And Co. and Mangosuthu University of Technology
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Experimental and molecular pathology | Year: 2015

Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4), a mammalian mitochondrial serine kinase has emerged as an interesting candidate for diabetes therapy. Due to the high prevalence of this disease especially type 2 diabetes (T2D) and the health complications associated with it, there is extensive effort to find the appropriate treatment. Understanding the regulation of PDK4 activity would therefore contribute significantly to the development of therapeutic agents. This research outlines the utilization of bioinformatics tools such as Interweaver, ClustalW and Protein Structure Visualizer, in order to predict proteins that potentially interact with PDK4 and possibly regulate its activity. Interweaver database identified 96 proteins that have possible interaction sites for PDK4. Protein p100/p49, containing a death domain that is known to have a role in suppressing apoptosis, was identified as a potential partner for PDK4. The alignment between p100/p49 primary sequence and that of PDK4 using ClustalW demonstrated sequence similarity between the two proteins. Swiss PDB Viewer then located the positions of the amino acids that are in the hypothetical protein binding motif of p100/p49 within the 3D structure of hPDK4. These amino acids were found to be located in the region of PDK4 which is known to bind protein substrates of PDK4 and may be accessible to other proteins as well. These findings were very interesting as PDK4 has not previously been associated with apoptosis and this could be the link between apoptosis and insulin resistance. Cell biology studies were then performed to verify the relationship between PDK4 and apoptosis. In this regard, HeLa and HepG2 cells were treated with apoptosis-inducing agents such as TNF, C2-ceramide, and linoleic acid. These cells were then monitored for apoptosis and PDK4 mRNA expression using a DNA laddering assay as well as Real Time PCR. The results showed that these factors induced apoptosis in a concentration dependent manner and suppressed PDK4 mRNA levels. These findings suggested a relationship between PDK4 and apoptosis.


Paquet T.,University of Cape Town | Gordon R.,Technology Innovation Agency | Waterson D.,ICC Inc | Witty M.J.,ICC Inc | Chibale K.,University of Cape Town
Future Medicinal Chemistry | Year: 2012

The current state of antimalarial drug resistance emphasizes the need for new therapies with novel modes of action that will add a significant benefit compared with current standards. In this regard, high throughput phenotypic whole-cell screening aids the discovery of novel antiplasmodial scaffolds that are inherently suited to hit-to-lead and lead-optimization efforts. The aminothiazoles and aminopyridines exemplify two such compound classes stemming from whole-cell screening. Respective structure-activity relationship determinations and subsequent optimization around these scaffolds led to frontrunner compounds in each series, which possess the desired antimalarial efficacy, bioavailability and metabolic stability to further progress medicinal chemistry programs. © 2012 Future Science Ltd.


Fayomi O.S.I.,Covenant University | Fayomi O.S.I.,Tshwane University of Technology | Fayomi O.S.I.,Technology Innovation Agency
Journal of Materials and Environmental Science | Year: 2015

Co-deposition of zinc metal matrix with ZnO composite was fabricated from electrolytic chloride based coating consisting of 20-40g/L ZnO particle. The resulting composite coatings were characterized using high optic microscope (OPM). The corrosion resistance properties of Zn-ZnO composite coatings were measure using linear polarization in 3.5% NaCl solution. The variation of amount of ZnO %wt. inclusion of the composite on micro-hardness was investigated using dura scan diamond base micro-hardness tester. The results obtained indicate that the introduction of ZnO particles in the deposition bath obviously increase significantly the hardness properties. The increases in hardness value are attributed to the realization of coherent and even precipitate into the metal lattice. The corrosion polarization resistance also improved slightly as against the MS. It was found that addition of ZnO %wt support strengthening characteristics toward hardness improvement with slight enhancement in anti-corrosion properties.


Fayomi O.S.I.,Covenant University | Fayomi O.S.I.,Tshwane University of Technology | Fayomi O.S.I.,Technology Innovation Agency | Loto C.A.,Covenant University | And 3 more authors.
International Journal of Electrochemical Science | Year: 2014

Zn-Al2O3 composite coating electrodeposits have been produced from chloride bath in the presence of Triethanolamine (TEA) and Monoethanolamine (MEA). The plating effect of TEA and MEA as addition agent on the Zn-Al2O3 alloy is investigated using SEM/EDS, x-ray diffraction (XRD) and atomic force microscope (AFM). The mechanical properties were examined through micro-hardness tester. The presence of TEA and MEA as a surface-active additive is also felt to accompany the performance of the fabricated coating. The SEM results for Zn-Al2O3 deposits in the presence of TEA/MEA indicate that surface-active additive have a strong influence on the deposit surface morphology and improved micro-hardness behavior which is assisted by the change in the deposition process parameter. © 2014 The Authors.

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