The Biolabels Unit seeks a collaborative effort in addressing health issues using nanotechnology-based tools. The Unit’s goal is to develop high performance bio-molecular functionalised nanostructures which are then used for point-of-care diagnostics and therapeutic applications. Within the Therapeutics platform, the focus is on developing nano-systems to be used as potential therapeutic agents, while the Diagnostics platform focuses on the development of point-of-care diagnostic kits and labelling reagents for in vivo imaging.
The Developmental NIC Biolabels team is headed by Dr. Amanda Skepu. She has a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of the Western Cape. Prior to joining Mintek, she worked at the MRC Diabetes Research Group, where she was responsible for conducting and managing research process, supervising and lecturing postgraduate students, writing research proposals and reports and establishing collaborations. Her areas of expertise cover a wide area of techniques in molecular and cellular biology, R&D in the development of rapid diagnostic test kits, with vast experience in working with rats and various cell culture models.
Sinazo is currently in charge of the MinPeptides™ and MinNanoGold™ facilities, where she is involved in the production of high quality peptides and peptoids and
the synthesis of bio-functionalised gold nanoparticles respectively.
Busi is part of the MinDiagnostics™ group, which develops and manufactures low cost, high quality rapid diagnostics kit for infectious diseases. She has focused on the development of the malaria kit and is currently persuing her PhD in biomarker identification and POC kit development for breast cancer.
Nikiwe is currently working on the development of surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy based gold self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) toward the production of sensitive, economical, rapid and user friendly diagnostic tools for the detection of infectious diseases.
Phumlani is involved in the research, development and manufacture of high performance lateral flow immunoassays (LFIA) for detection of infectious diseases in humans and animals, with specific focus on HIV.
Hendriette is currently in charge of the NicTox™ facility, where she tests the toxicity of nanomaterials to normal, as well as cancerous cell lines. She is also involved in the development of animal based lateral flow devices.
Thuli is currently pursuing a PhD as part of the PDP program, in the design and development of a Point-of Care Lateral Flow Device (POCLFD) and a SERS based diagnostic assay for the detection of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in infected blood.
The NIC Biolabels research unit is based at the University of the Western Cape and headed by Dr. Mervin Meyer.
There are currently sixteen (16) students registered at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), comprising thirteen (13) PhD and three (3) MSc registered students. They focus on a variety of projects, including the identification and development of cancer biomarkers; development of rapid diagnostic tests for various human diseases (including HIV and cancer) and the development of gold nano-based therapeutics systems for cancer treatment.