Welcome to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in the beautiful coastal city of
Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, and George in the Southern Cape.
Gold ARVs - and other medicinal metals...
ANTI-RETROVIRAL drugs made from gold? It’s a possibility, says Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Prof Zenixole Tshentu, who has been using South Africa’s abundant metals to formulate new drug compounds.
His pioneering research into the separation of metal ions is extending boundaries in terms of how these important elements can be used, including in the realm of medicine. Over the past few years, Tshentu and his post-graduate students have been focusing on gold anti-retrovirals and the use of vanadium to treat diabetes.
The inorganic/analytical chemistry associate professor – who is the recipient of one of two NMMU Research Excellence Awards – is essentially “upgrading” the country’s raw mineral resources by improving the methods used to purify them. In so doing, he is increasing their value.
Tshentu says the purification techniques used to upgrade these metals for new uses can be used just as effectively to recycle the precious metals found in discarded goods, such as those contained in the catalytic converters of cars (in exhaust systems), or inside discarded computer chips, referred to as e-waste.
“I call it urban mining. Our minerals underground are drying out – the platinum-group metals – yet the world is only recycling 17% of its precious mineral resources. These resources are not going to be around forever.” Read more...