CUT Leads: Scientists discover new drug in the fight against aquatic infections

Health and Environmental Sciences CUT News Research and Innovation
CUT Leads: Scientists discover new drug in the fight against aquatic infections

Aquatic infections pose a massive threat to the aquaculture industry, causing substantial economic losses annually. This has led to the research team at the Unit for Drug Discovery at the Central University of Technology (CUT) making a discovery that could save the industry globally.

Aquaculture, or aquafarming, is cultivating and harvesting aquatic plants and animals in a controlled setting for human consumption. This involves cultivating fish, crustaceans, molluscs, and other aquatic organisms in tanks, ponds, or other water bodies. According to the International Trade Administration, the global aquaculture market was valued at USD 204 billion (R3 trillion) in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 262 billion (R4 trillion) by 2026.

Oomycetes are fungus-like microorganisms that can cause devastating diseases in aquatic animals. These diseases lead to diminished production and severe financial implications for the aquaculture industry worldwide. For example, in 2016, Chilean salmon farms lost $800 million (or R14 billion today) after an algal bloom due to warmer-than-usual weather devastated their stock.

"Recognising the urgent need to control these infections, the team aimed to develop novel drugs targeting the proteins in oomycete genomes," says Professor Samson Sitheni Mashele, Dean of Health and Environmental Sciences at CUT.

The Drug Discovery Unit team, led by Prof. Simon Mashele at the time, played a crucial role in analysing cytochrome P450 monooxygenase proteins and in understanding how pathogens and hosts metabolise substances, thereby affecting the effectiveness of fungicides and antifungal treatments in 13 pathogenic oomycete genomes. This led to the identification of novel drug targets.

Collaboration between CUT and international researchers has resulted in the exchange of knowledge and resources, aiding discovery. This breakthrough was made possible through partnerships with scientists from the University of Tennessee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both in the United States of America and Huazhong Agricultural University in China.

"CUT is proud to be at the forefront of this innovative research, which has the potential to transform the aquaculture industry," says Mashele. "Our university's commitment to excellence in research and innovation is evident in this work."

This research could have enormous implications for understanding infectious diseases and developing new antimicrobial strategies. The discovery of these novel drug targets in oomycete genomes could lead to new treatments for various diseases, including those affecting humans.

According to the professor, the research has also provided valuable learning opportunities for the students involved, some of which have gone on to do great work. "Our students have gained exposure to international standards of research and access to advanced technological tools and methodologies, preparing them for global challenges and enhancing their educational experience," he says.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the prestigious scientific journal Scientific Reports. This breakthrough offers a promising solution for the aquaculture industry, providing livelihoods for millions worldwide. As CUT continues to lead the way in innovative research, we can look forward to a brighter future for the industry and the millions of people who depend on it.

As CUT continues to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, we can expect even more exciting breakthroughs in the future. With our commitment to excellence in research, CUT is poised to remain at the forefront of scientific discovery and to make a meaningful impact on the world.

Uploaded: 10 July 2024
CUT Celebrates Mandela Day with Ihobe Primary School and Lenyora La Thuto Secondary School

CUT Celebrates Mandela Day with Ihobe Primary School and Lenyora La Thuto Secondary School

CUT News

At Lenyora La Thuto Secondary School, the CUT librarians undertook a similar initiative, arranging library...


CUT Department of Health Sciences donate 80 laboratory coats to Lenyora la Thuto Secondary School in celebration of Mandela Day

CUT Department of Health Sciences donate 80 laboratory coats to Lenyora la Thuto Secondary School in celebration of Mandela Day

Health and Environmental Sciences CUT News

Front row: Grade 10 -12 learners, with their educators, Mr. MO Dale, Mrs. Celeste Mc Pherson, Ms. KK...


CUT academic is elected as a new Chairperson of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa Board

CUT academic is elected as a new Chairperson of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa Board

CUT News

Dr. Mantoa Molete has proven herself as an exceptional academic and a genuine leader at the recent International...


Faculties