# Durban University of Technology

• Durban, South Africa
Recent publications
Malaria is a serious worldwide medical issue that results in substantial annual death and morbidity. The availability of treatment alternatives is limited, and the rise of resistant parasite types has posed a significant challenge to malaria treatment. To prevent a public health disaster, novel antimalarial agents with single-dosage therapies, extensive curative capability, and new mechanisms are urgently needed. There are several approaches to developing antimalarial drugs, ranging from alterations of current drugs to the creation of new compounds with specific targeting abilities. The availability of multiple genomic techniques, as well as recent advancements in parasite biology, provides a varied collection of possible targets for the development of novel treatments. A number of promising pharmacological interference targets have been uncovered in modern times. As a result, our review concentrates on the most current scientific and technical progress in the innovation of new antimalarial medications. The protein kinases, choline transport inhibitors, dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitors, isoprenoid biosynthesis inhibitors, and enzymes involved in the metabolism of lipids and replication of deoxyribonucleic acid, are among the most fascinating antimalarial target proteins presently being investigated. The new cellular targets and drugs which can inhibit malaria and their development techniques are summarised in this study.
This paper demonstrates the application of smartphones as well as spectrophotometers as tools to demystify the mechanism leading to colour variation of 1,5-diphenylcarbazide functionalized gold nanoparticles (DPC-AuNPs) due to chromium addition. Colour Grab 3.6.1 app was used to capture and decode colours from samples containing DPC-AuNPs with different concentrations of hexavalent Chromium [Cr(VI)] standards. The presence of Cr(VI) aggregated DPC-AuNPs resulted in a colour change from pink to blue and a decrease in the peak intensity as accompanied by a red shift of the SPR peak to 670 nm. The R colour coordinates decreased as Cr(VI) concentration was increased to 16 µM then a rapid decrease was noted between 18–25 µM and G and B colour coordinates followed the same trend. Colour difference (∆E) increased significantly as the Cr(VI) concentration increased. A rapid decrease was noticed in the hue angle between 16–25 µM while chroma decreased significantly as the Cr(VI) concentration increased. Molecular dynamics calculation of a gold cluster was used to simulate the aggregation process. The calculated radial distribution [g(r)] from cluster models of the Cr-DPC complex was two-fold more than Cr-AuNPs. This was associated with the aggregation of gold nanoparticles leading to the appearance of the blue colour of AuNPs solution which was also supported by the intensity obtained from colour Grab. This study will potentially be applied in the future for the fabrication of a Lovibond photometer for the detection of metal ions in environmental samples.
Since the advent of microplastics, it has become a vital component, directly or indirectly, in our daily lives. With advancements in their use, microplastics have become an integral part of personal care, cosmetics, and cleaning products (PCCPs)and emerged as a domestic source of environmental pollution. Over the years, researchers have ascertained the harmful effects of microplastics on the environment. In this context, the assessment and monitoring of microplastics in PCCPs require considerable attention. In addition, it raises concern regarding the need to develop innovative, sustainable, and environmentally safe technologies to combat microplastic pollution. Therefore, this review is an endeavor to uncover the fate, route and degradation mechanism of cosmetic microplastics. In addition, the major technological advancement in cosmetic microplastic removal and the steps directed toward mitigating cosmetic microplastic pollution are also discussed.
Self-testing for COVID-19 may be a preferable strategy for identifying SARS-CoV-2 infection among populations in low- and middle-income settings. To determine South Africans' values related to COVID-19 self-testing should it become widely available, a cross-sectional survey was administered in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province and the King Sabata Dalindyebo sub-district of the Eastern Cape. A 35-question survey was administered to 531 participants (268 female) in one urban and one rural setting South Africa. Survey participants were randomly selected by household in the rural setting, while in the urban setting participants were approached in randomly selected public places. The survey assessed participants' likelihood of using and willingness to pay for a COVID-19 self-test and actions they would take following a COVID-19 self-test. The results were analysed using descriptive statistics and bivariate and multivariate regression. Overall, 93.03% of participants supported COVID-19 self-testing, 61.62% of participants were willing to pay for self-testing, and 90.15% indicated they would communicate their results if they tested positive. Rural participants were more positively associated with each of these outcomes compared with urban-based participants. Should they test positive, most participants said they would: go in-person to a health facility for counselling (76.45%), self-isolate (95.85%), notify close contacts (97.74%), and inform their employer (95.14%). COVID-19 self-testing was a preferable option for most participants, although this varied with setting and demographic characteristics. Self-testing may overcome barriers to care for South Africans, but to achieve this, policies for self-testing and delivery methods must not exacerbate individuals' underlying economic vulnerabilities.
Viral metagenomics is increasingly applied in viral detection and virome characterization. Different extraction and enrichment techniques may be adopted, however, reports on their effective influence on viral recovery is often conflicting. Using a three step enrichment steps, the effect of three extraction kits and the influence of DNase treatment with or without rRNA removal for respiratory RNA virus recovery from nasopharyngeal swab samples was evaluated. The viral cocktail containing six different RNA viruses pooled in equal volume were subjected to the different extraction and enrichment methods, sequenced using the Illumina MiSeq, and analysed using Genome Detective. The PureLink® Viral RNA/DNA Mini Kit (PureLink) was highly efficient with better recovery of all the viral agents in the cocktail. The use of rRNA treatment resulted in increased viral recovery with PureLink and QIAamp® Viral RNA Mini kit, while having comparable recovery rate as DNase only with the QIAamp® MinElute Virus Spin Kit. The observed low reads and genome coverage of some of the viruses could be attributed to their low abundance. Depending on sample matrix, extraction choice and enrichment strategy may influence recovery of respiratory RNA virus in metagenomics studies, therefore individual evaluation and adoption may be necessary for a robust result.
The rising volume of wastewater sludge and sugarcane bagasse is becoming a prominent concern globally. Furthermore, the growing demand for fuel coupled with the depletion of fossil fuel reserves in South Africa demonstrates the need for alternative energy sources. To minimize the reliance on fossil-based energy sources, a renewable resource such as biomass can be optimized as an energy source. Wastewater sludge and bagasse have the energy potential to produce high-calorific-value biocoal; this will contribute to the supply of energy in South Africa. The synthesis of biocoal from wastewater sludge and bagasse through an artificial synthetic coal production process, i.e., hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), is preferred over other thermal conversion techniques as HTC is capable of handling feed having a high (75–90%) moisture content. This article focuses on the production of biocoal from wastewater sludge and sugarcane bagasse as an alternative to sustainable bioenergy supply and as one of the potential solutions for reducing net CO2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil-fuel power plants, and addresses the use of different thermochemical technologies, previous studies on the composition of wastewater sludge and bagasse, and the benefits of hydrothermal carbonization.
We consider the unified bulk viscous scenarios and constrain them using the Cosmic Microwave Background observations from Planck 2018 and the Pantheon sample from Type Ia Supernovae. Then we generate the luminosity distance measurements from ${\cal O}(10^3)$ mock Gravitational Wave Standard Sirens (GWSS) events for the proposed Einstein Telescope. We then combine these mock luminosity distance measurements from the GWSS with the current cosmological probes in order to forecast how the mock GWSS data could be effective in constraining these bulk viscous scenarios. Our results show that a non-zero time dependent bulk viscosity in the universe sector is strongly preferred by the current cosmological probes and will possibly be confirmed at many standard deviations by the future GWSS measurements. We further mention that the addition of GWSS data can significantly reduce the uncertainties of the key cosmological parameters obtained from the usual cosmological probes employed in this work.
The United Nations (UN) emphasizes the necessity of reducing the social and material losses imposed by water disasters, with an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable social groups to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). Several objectives outlined under the SDGs including Goals 1, 11, and 13 concentrate on minimizing vulnerability to disasters and boosting resilience to extreme occurrences. Flooding is an increasingly challenging problem facing cities today, with consequences mostly felt in marginalized communities. Residents of informal settlements are particularly susceptible to the effects of flooding given that they are compelled to live in the most unsafe locations, such as floodplains. This study reviews the current status of flooding research from empirical perspectives globally and in South Africa through systematic literature and bibliometric analysis of 249 peer-reviewed articles on flooding, with a focus on informal settlements. We detect groups of keywords and major research themes. Our analysis shows that studies on flood modeling in informal settlements are inadequate. We synthesized the research to present a body of knowledge on floods in informal settlements. Future research prospects are identified in areas of upgrading housing and infrastructures, policies, integrating indigenous knowledge, and local participation.
Performance evaluation is one of the most critical components in assuring the comprehensive development of e-learning in medical education (e-LMED). Although several studies evaluate performance in e-LMED, no study presently maps the rising scientific knowledge and evolutionary patterns that establish a solid background to investigate and quantify the efficacy of the evaluation of performance in e-LMED. Therefore, this study aims to quantify scientific productivity, identify the key terms and analyze the extent of research collaboration in this domain. We searched the SCOPUS database using search terms informed by the PICOS model, and a total of 315 studies published between 1991 and 2022 were retrieved. Performance analysis, science mapping, network analysis, and visualization were performed using R Bibliometrix, Biblioshiny, and VOSviewer packages. Findings reveal that authors are actively publishing and collaborating in this domain, which experienced a sporadic publication increase in 2021. Most of the top publications, collaborations, countries, institutions, and journals are produced in first-world countries. In addition, studies evaluating performance in e-LMED evaluated constructs such as efficacy, knowledge gain, student perception, confidence level, acceptability, feasibility, usability, and willingness to recommend e-learning, mainly using pre-tests and post-tests experimental design methods. This study can help researchers understand the existing landscape of performance evaluation in e-LMED and could be used as a background to investigate and quantify the efficacy of the evaluation of e-LMED.
Understanding how employees act at work to save energy and the meaning for sustainability and environmental protection is essential. This research aimed to analyze the influences of Subjective Norms (SN), Descriptive Norms (DN), and Environmental Knowledge (EK) on employees’ intention to save energy (ISE) in the Philippines (PH) and the Dominican Republic (DR). The effects of SN, DN, and EK on ISE were evaluated by comparing two developing countries and the mediation effect of EK on the relationship between DN, SN, and ISE. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), followed by structural equation modeling and path analysis based on samples collected from employees from DR (340) and PH (339), was performed. Also, construct convergent and discriminant validity were assessed using composite reliability, maximal reliability, average variance extracted, and maximum shared variance. The findings of this study indicate that SN influences ISE positively among employees in PH (β = 0.15, p< 0.05) but not among employees in DR. Descriptive Norms positively influence ISE among employees in PH (β = 0.47, p < 0.01) and DR (β = 0.27, p < 0.01), while EK has a positive and significant influence on the ISE among employees in PH (β = 0.22, p < 0.01) and not in DR. There is a partial mediation effect between SN and EK on ISE when EK is the mediator in PH, and no mediation effects for RD. The intention to save energy is significant in economic terms because reducing energy consumption can help decrease energy costs and improve business profitability and competitiveness; in social terms, it can reduce energy consumption worldwide and improve social health, reducing gas emissions and pollution.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most frequent form of gastrointestinal cancer and one of the major causes of human mortality worldwide. Many of the current CRC therapies have limitations due to multidrug resistance and/or severe side effects. Quinazoline derivatives are promising lead compounds with a wide range of pharmacological actions. In this study, the effect of seven synthesized 2,3-dihydroquinazolin-4(1H)-one analogues as potential anticancer agents against two CRC cell lines (HCT116 and SW480) was investigated using cell viability proliferation, migration, adhesion and invasion assays. A liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) metabolomics approach was used to identify the underlying biochemical pathways disturbed in treated-HCT116 cells. Cell viability proliferation assay revealed that four compounds (C2, C3, C5, and C7) had IC50 < 10 µM with C5 displaying the most potent cytotoxic effect (IC50 1.4 and 0.3 µM against HCT116 and SW480, respectively). Additionally, the compounds showed suppression of wound closure after 72 hr, and both C2 and C5 significantly decreased the number of adherent cells and suppressed HCT116 cells invasion. Metabolomics study revealed that C5 induced significant perturbations in the level of several metabolites including spermine, polyamines, glutamine, creatine and carnitine, and altered biochemical processes essential for cell proliferation and progression such as amino acids biosynthesis and metabolism, redox homeostasis, energy related processes (e.g., fatty acid oxidation, second Warburg like effect) and one-carbon metabolism. Our findings indicate that 2,3-dihydroquinazolin-4(1H)-one analogues, particularly C5, have promising anticancer properties, and shed light on the role of metabolomics in identifying new therapeutic targets and providing better understanding of the pathways altered in treated cancer cells.
Smart building technology has received a broad audience due to digitalisation and benefits in the construction industry. With global interest, the construction of smart buildings has become a new trend in development. Many studies identified a significant interest in the smart building technology application more than in conventional buildings. However, in developing countries, construction professionals have paid little attention to the adoption of smart building technology. Therefore, this paper aims to identify the benefits that are attached to the adoption of smart building technology (SBT) in the construction industry. The study is based on a systematic review of published articles in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. A total of 55 papers comprising conferences and journal articles retrieved from Scopus database were utilised for the study. The study's findings revealed efficient energy consumption, cost-effective building maintenance and operation, job creation, health care management, real-time monitoring, safety and security, among others, as benefits of smart building technologies (SBTs). For smart building technology to thrive in emerging economies, a comprehensive understanding of its benefits is highly imperative. This will not only promote construction professionals' knowledge of its concept but also enhance its successful adoption in these regions. Thus, the paper provides some insights into the benefit of smart building technology in developing countries while suggesting the formation of a synergic structure between the research community and practitioners in the construction sector. Article highlight Smart building promotes sustainability in the construction industry. Productivity, collaboration and security increase smart building adoption. Rigorous studies on smart building benefits are limited in developing countries.
Apple pomace (AP) from the food industry is a mixture of different fractions containing bioactive polyphenolic compounds. This study provides a systematic approach toward the recovery and evaluation of the physiochemical and biological properties of polyphenolic compounds from AP. We studied subcritical water extraction (SCW) and solvent extraction with ethanol from four different AP fractions of pulp, peel, seed, core, and stem (A), peel (B), seed and core (C), and pulp and peel (D). The subcritical water method at the optimum condition resulted in total polyphenolic compounds (TPC) of 39.08 ± 1.10 mg GAE per g of AP on a dry basis compared to the ethanol extraction with TPC content of 10.78 ± 0.94 mg GAE/g db. Phloridzin, chlorogenic acid, and quercetin were the main identified polyphenolics in the AP fractions using HPLC. DPPH radical scavenging activity of fraction B and subcritical water (SW) extracts showed comparable activity to ascorbic acid while all ethanolic extracts were cytocompatible toward human fibroblast (3T3-L1) and salivary gland acinar cells (NS-SV-AC). Our results indicated that AP is a rich source of polyphenolics with the potential for biomedical applications.
Traces of pharmaceuticals of various classes have been reported as emerging pollutants, and they continue to be detected in aquatic environments. The steady growth of pharmaceuticals in water, as well as the related negative consequences, has made it a major priority to discover effective ways for their removal from water. Various strategies have been used in the past in order to address this issue. Recently, nanotechnology has emerged as a topic of intense interest for this purpose, and different technologies for removing pharmaceuticals from water have been devised and implemented, such as photolysis, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis, and oxidation. Nanotechnological approaches including adsorption and degradation have been comprehensively examined in this paper, along with the applications and limits, in which various types of nanoparticles, nanocomposites, and nanomembranes have played important roles in removing these pharmaceutical pollutants. However, this review focuses on the most often used method, adsorption, as it is regarded as the superior approach due to its low cost, efficiency, and ease of application. Adsorption kinetic models are explained to evaluate the effectiveness of nano-adsorbents in evaluating mass transfer processes in terms of how much can be adsorbed by each method. Several robust metals, metal oxides, and functionalized magnetic nanoparticles have been highlighted, classified, and compared for the removal of pharmaceuticals, such as non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory and antiretroviral drugs, from water. Additionally, current research difficulties and prospects have been highlighted.
Rotavirus-induced gastroenteritis is a global health concern and the leading cause of death in low-income countries and children under the age of five. While rotavirus A (RVA) vaccines are available, there accessibility and efficacy remain challenging, especially in the third world countries. This has necessitated the need to develop therapeutics to manage RVA infection. This study investigated gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-derived Phyllosticta capitalensis metabolites as potential therapeutics against the key structural proteins [VP8* portion of the VP4 (spike protein), the VP7 (capsid protein), and the VP1 (RNA-dependent RNA polymerase)] of RVA using molecular docking and ADME approaches. The results revealed that four [lup-20(29)-en-one, A’-neogammacer-22(29)-ene, stigmasta-4,7,22-trien-3-α-ol, and fucosterol] of the 67 metabolites had favourable affinity for the three structural proteins and belonged to classes of metabolite of antiviral importance. Further analysis and pharmacokinetic profiling showed that the pentacyclic triterpenoids, lup-20(29)-en-one and A’-neogammacer-22(29)-ene, had the potential to be developed as antivirals against RVA infection and effort is underway in this direction.
Diabetes is rising at an alarming rate, as 1 in 10 adults worldwide now lives with the disease. In Qatar, a middle eastern Arab country, diabetes prevalence is equally concerning and is predicted to increase from 17% to 24% among individuals aged 45 and 54 years by 2050. While most healthcare strategies focus on preventative and improvement of in-hospital care of patients with diabetes, a notable paucity exists concerning diabetes in the prehospital setting should ideally be provided. This quality improvement study was conducted in a middle eastern ambulance service and aimed to reduce ambulance callbacks of patients with diabetes-related emergencies after refusing transport to the hospital at the first time. We used iterative four-stage problem-solving models. It focused on the education and training of both paramedics and patients. The study showed that while it was possible to reduce the rate of ambulance callbacks of patients with diabetes, this was short-lived and numbers increased again. The study demonstrated that improvements could be effective. Hence, changes that impacted policy, systems of care and ambulance protocols directed at managing and caring for patients with diabetes-related prehospital emergencies may be required to reify them.
We consider a modification of the Brans–Dicke gravitational Action Integral inspired by the existence of a minimum length uncertainty for the scalar field. In particular, the kinetic part of the Brans–Dicke scalar field is modified such that the equation of motion for the scalar field is modified according to the quadratic Generalized Uncertainty Principle (GUP). For the background geometry, we assume the homogeneous and isotropic Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric. We investigate the dynamics and the cosmological evolution of the dynamical variables of the theory, and we compare the results with the unmodified Brans–Dicke theory. It follows that in consideration because of the additional degrees of freedom in the energy-momentum tensor the dynamical variables describe various aspects of the cosmological history. This is one of the first studies on the effects of GUP in a Machian gravitational theory.