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Research 

The Department of Medical Biosciences is a vibrant department, comprising the disciplines of anatomy, medical microbiology and physiology, and offers exciting opportunities for research to dynamic and motivated postgraduate students.

The main thrusts of the postgraduate programme involve understanding the relationship between ‘Lifestyle and Disease’ as well as ‘Understanding of the Pathology of Disease’ through cutting edge research.

Specific expertises reside within the broad research fields of anatomy, cardiovascular physiology, herbal sciences, immunology, medical microbiology, molecular and cell biology, neuroscience, reproduction, toxicology and virology, which collaborate interdisciplinary.
  • The neonatal lung project focuses on the effects of nicotine in lung development and potential strategies to counteract the adverse effects of smoking in lung development.
  • The reproductive biology project focuses on the effects of traditional African herbal remedies on male reproductive functions, the development of new male contraceptive strategies of plant origin, plant extracts that may have both anti-viral (particularly anti-HIV) and anti-bacterial properties as well as on the understanding of the adverse effects of male and female genital tract infections on the fertilisation process and the health of the infant.
  • Two major projects on apoptosis (programmed, gene controlled cell death) focus on cancer cells and cardiac cells as modes to anti-cancer therapies and compromised heart cells. Moreover, these projects also investigate the pharmacological effect of various phytochemicals on different cardiovascular diseases, e.g. hypertension.
  • The environmental water pollution project focuses on the development of immuno-assays for biomarkers for physiological system (endocrine, reproductive, immune) modulation in order to improve the quality control of drinking water quality.
  • Newly emerging projects explore microbes and their effects on female morbidity and dental health as well as the mechanisms of infection of corona virus to cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The principal investigators in the department are mostly NRF-rated scientists, publish in internationally renowned journals and enjoy considerable international recognition. Strong collaborative ties exist between prominent research groups in Australia, Chile, Germany, Singapore, the USA and elsewhere.

MSc and PhD programmes are offered in the following research areas. (Potential supervisors are indicated)

  • Anatomy (Dr Abdul-Rasool, Prof. Monsees, Dr Mbonile)
  • Cardiovascular physiology (Prof. Dietrich, Mr Burger)
  • Cell biology / cancer research (Prof. De Kock, Prof. Hiss, Dr Abdul-Rasool)
  • Neurobiology of the Blood-Brain Barrier / Male Fertility and the Blood-Testis Barrier (Prof. Fisher)
  • Immunology (Prof. Pool)
  • Lung research (Prof. Maritz)
  • Medical microbiology (Prof. Africa, Dr Klaasen, Dr Morris)
  • Human and animal reproduction (Prof. Henkel, Prof. Monsees, Prof. Van der Horst, Prof. Fisher)
  • Neuroscience (Dr De Smidt, Dr McBride, Prof. Fisher)
  • Toxicology (Prof. Monsees, Prof. Pool)
  • Virology and molecular biology (Prof. Fielding, Prof. Hiss, Dr Klaasen)
  • Food toxicology (Dr Morris)

Areas of expertise: Molecular biology
Current Project: Molecular markers of breast cancer micro metastasis

He has extensive experience in the use of computers in physiological research and in education. He has university qualifications not only in mathematics, zoology botany, biochemistry and physiology, but also in tertiary and continuing education as well as in computer science. He developed hardware and software to capture and analyse analogue and digital data with high precision. He also developed instrumentation for micro perfusion and measurement of transmembrane potential differences in isolated kidney (nephron) segments and for the recording of the contractile parameters of isolated cardiac trabeculae while observing the latter under a fluorescent microscope. This system can be used to investigate the changes occurring in cardiac muscle under various experimental conditions. He developed a system that can be used for open circuit spirometry in humans and in small experimental animals. This system facilitates the determination of respiratory parameters and the indirect measurement of metabolic rate, RER, %fat/%CHO consumption, etc.  He developed software for the determination of contractile parameters in isolated aorta rings.

He is currently involved in investigating the effect of extracts of a plant used in traditional medicine on mammalian cardiovascular function. He has instrumentation set up to determine the inotropic and chronotropic effects of these extracts in in-vivo as well as in in-vitro mammalian models. He is interested in exercise physiology and the relationship of the respiratory and cardiovascular function to physical performance. He also has an interest in malignant cancer and radiotherapy, and will be interested in collaborative work in any of the above fields.

In summary: he is a general physiologist with extensive experience in physiology education at a tertiary education level and a specific interest in the renal system; respiratory system; heart and cardiovascular system as well as in exercise physiology and malignant tumours.

Most of her research is centred on providing evidence for the chemo preventative efficacy of certain compounds on malignant cells in-vitro. This is accomplished by identifying the molecular mechanisms causing quiescence, anti-mitotic, cytotoxic effects and apoptosis or autophagy in various types of transformed cells. She believes that more knowledge of the molecular processes (signal transduction and growth control) affected by anti-tumour agents may aid in the treatment of cancer.

In an equivalent study on breast cancer cells, she and her team hope to improve knowledge of the mechanism of hormonal resistance and the relationship between estrogen signalling and cell growth pathways. It is known that estrogen and the estrogen receptors (ERs) are critical regulators of breast epithelial cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Resistance to anti-estrogen therapy used effectively for ER positive invasive breast cancer in many patients, unfortunately often develops.  By using anti-estrogen compounds in combination with novel anti-tumour extracts from plants she anticipates to overcome the development of resistance to endocrine therapies. The research could then provide the basis for combining signalling pathway inhibitors with endocrine therapies.

Current Projects

  • The radio sensitising effect of PGA2 in MCF-10A and MCF-7 cells irradiated with x rays and neutrons.
  • In vitro cell signalling events of Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and Tamoxifen in breast adenocarcinoma (SUM 185 PE and SUM 44 PE) and a non-tumorigenic breast epithelial (MCF 10A) cell line 
  • Flavonoid dietary interactions in relation to their potential anti- and/or pro-oxidant properties
  • Comparative in vitro study of the anti-tumour effect of apricot and peach kernel extracts on HT-29 human colon cancer cells
  • The modulation of colon carcinogenesis by dietary ω-6/ω-3  fatty acid ratios: a chemo preventive strategy.

In our laboratory we developed a model of diet-induced hypertension and insulin resistance to study the use of phytotherapy in hypertension development and treatment. Other research includes the development of hypertension due to intrauterine stress, and its complications.

Current Projects

  • The antihypertensive effects of Buchu water
  • Effects of maternal nicotine exposure on the blood pressure of the offspring

Dr. Ekpo’s research interests include studying the neuroprotective effects of pharmaceutical products and herbal extracts against potential damage caused by environmental toxicants, irradiation and diseases. He uses cultured neural cells, tissues and animal model systems of nervous system disorders to investigate changes in cell and tissue morphology, cell viability and cell death. Techniques include basic histology, immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy and morphometric analysis.     

Current Projects

  • Effects of rooibos herbal tea and Bisphenol-A on bEnd5 cell lines

The development of drugs against RNA virus infections is expected to have a significant impact on human health-related quality of life. RNA viruses include in excess of 350 different major human pathogens and are responsible for many emerging diseases. These viruses are responsible for not only very frequent benign diseases, but also for millions of deaths each year in both industrialised and developing countries. Among the most significant viral infectious agents are the corona viruses, responsible for between 10- 15% of all common colds in the world. Very few effective antiviral drugs against these viruses exist. In the USA alone, the common cold leads to ~100 million GP visits at a conservative cost estimate of US$7.7 billion per year. Also, up to 189 million school days are missed annually due to a cold, resulting in 126 million parents missing workdays to stay home to care for their children. This leads to a total economic impact of cold-related work loss exceeding US$20 billion per year. Prof Fielding’s research group in the Molecular Virology Laboratory (MVL) focuses on the interaction of RNA viruses with the human host at the molecular level. Currently we are focusing on the emerging human corona viruses SARS-CoV and HCoV-NL63. MVL is studying the role of viral-viral and viral-host protein interactions, with the specific aim at elucidating the role of these interactions in virus pathogenicity.

Neurobiology Research Group:

Core Members: Proffs D. Fisher, J. Jobert, A Dube and Dr K Makhathini

Importance of a Neurobiology/science niche area in Science Faculty:

Research within the neurosciences/neurobiology field at the Faculty of Natural Science, UWC, has been ongoing for multiple years. The Faculty houses many independent research groups within Medical Biosciences and the School of Pharmacy that are conducting research within the neurosciences field. Therefore, the establishment of a Neurobiology Research Group has concretized collaborations between these groups and other groups within Faculty. The ultimate goal is to develop a platform for the further development of potential neuro-therapeutic agents. Drug discovery research within the School of Pharmacy has been ongoing for the past 10 years and the department has an ever-expanding compound databank with potentially active agents against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral malaria, meningeal tuberculosis etc. These compounds include those identified from marine natural products, through rational drug design approaches and virtual screening. Initial studies on selected compounds have shown neuromodulatory abilities in cell-based and/or biochemical assays. Further analysis e.g. blood-brain barrier permeability, in vitro/in vivo neuromodulatory abilities and formulation development, are some of the areas that we intend to develop to take promising drug-like molecules further down the drug design and development pipeline. As further development and pre-clinical trials are a crucial part of the drug development process, intradepartmental and/or inter-faculty collaborations at UWC will drastically accelerate the process of discovering new molecules with the ultimate goal to identify a drug candidate.

An established core group of researchers:

Many cutting-edge skillsets currently exist across the Science Faculty, both in terms of technical expertise and research areas. An interrogation of the staff research revealed that many are involved in neural research. Prof Jacques Joubert works in the drug design and development,  computerised molecular modelling studies of multifunctional neuroprotective entities with ion channel (Ca2+), enzyme, neuronal nitric oxide synthase, cholinesterase and monoamine oxidase, receptor channel (NMDA), and/or antioxidant inhibitory activity. Prof Admire Dube studies the pharmacokinetics of nanoparticles in cells and animals, and is extremely interested in the movement of drugs encapsulated in nanoparticles across the BBB. Our collaborative paper (on the effects of designer nano-sized particles which have the ability to ferry encapsulated drugs across the BBB), illustrated the importance of using a multifaceted group of scientists to solve a problem (Omarch, et al., 2019). More importantly, is developing the next generation of scientists working in neuroscience. Dr Khaya Makhathini, who has just joined the department of MBS, core research interest is Neurobiology. He is particularly interested in the effects of inflammation (eg. neuroinflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress-causing agents), on the blood-brain barrier and has numerous molecular research skills.

The envisaged physical and virtual dimensions neurobiology group would allow new scientists and postgraduate students to be mentored and developed in a multi-skilled, broad and diverse scientific environment, with a clearly defined neurobiology theme: “Designing neuropharmaceutics to permeate the blood-brain barrier and combat neurodegenerative disease ”. The understanding of the BBB is crucial in developing drugs to treat the numerous diseases and cancers which plague the brain. We propose to use a project to initiate and galvanise this primary group of scientists into a team that can routinely propose and initiate research, as well as to recruit funds both locally and internationally. 

Developing a research pipeline for Neurobiological research:

Within the Neurobiology group, the drug discovery team is responsible for the design, development, synthesis and initial biological evaluation of neuroprotective agents. Through literature, in silico virtual screening or molecular modelling, in silico ADMET prediction software, rational drug design approaches the ideal of characterizing isolate compounds from natural products; we are able to identify “hits” with the potential of becoming lead compounds. Further optimization of these compounds will be conducted, and further analysis of the “hits” will be evaluated through the Neurobiology group. With the collaborations of the other research groups, we can further determine the neurological potential of the most promising compounds by determining cytotoxicity, blood-brain barrier permeation, use of novel nanoparticle vesicles mechanisms of delivery across the blood-brain barrier, as well as testing various other neurotoxic proteins or agents (i.e. TNF-α and IL-β cytokines or Aβ proteins).

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Neurobiology Group: (2013-)

Effects of selected narcotics and paracrine factors on the Blood-Brain Barrier

The function of the Blood-Brain barrier (BBB), which is dependent on the integrity of the tight junctions between adjacent endothelial cells, is critical in protecting the underlying brain parenchyma (neurons) from blood-borne toxins and pathogens while maintaining the optimal ionic milieu for neural function. Our laboratory is particularly interested in understanding the effects of selected narcotics on the BBB while seeking possible therapies to prevent the associated neural pathology and toxicity. The abuse of illegal methamphetamine (Meth/”tik”), a powerful psychostimulant, which is responsible for the erosion of countless lives and families, especially affecting poor communities in the Western Cape, has long been a worldwide public health problem. Due to the lipid-soluble nature of METH, it diffuses across the plasma membrane of brain endothelial cells, bringing about severe neurotoxic effects. In addition, METH weakens the integrity of the BBB, making it susceptible to bacteria and viruses such as HIV-AIDS. We have recently extended this line of investigation to the effects of alcohol on the BBB.
 bEnd5/bEnd3 cells are the two commercially available mouse brain capillary cell lines; both are available in our laboratory and are used to model and elucidate the functional characteristics of the in vitro BBB characteristics. Our focus is on the immediate and short-term effects of both pure and street METH (“tik”, confiscated by the SAPS) on bEnd5 cells, as well as on the long-term physiological and morphological effects.
A second research thrust of the neurobiology group is the investigation of the effects of selected cancer-cell lines, in particular, the aggressive glioblastoma cancer cell line, on the BBB. Here we are investigating several mechanisms whereby the paracrine factors from these cancer cell lines could reversibly alter the permeability across these junctional complexes of bEnd5/bEend3 cells to exploit these molecular mechanisms for improved drug delivery across the in vivo BBB.

Neurobiology Group: Professor David Fisher (PI), Dr Khaya Makhathini, Dr Brian Felepisi, Dr Okobi Ekpo,  Dr Femi Alamu, Dr Shireen Mentor, Dr Mariam Rado, Dr Chontrelle Willemse, Dr Sahar Rasool.

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Exploring the electrophysiological and molecular properties of the testis with a view to reversible male contraception.

The seminiferous tubule is a likely site in the male reproductive tract to which manipulation (using various plant extracts, drugs and/or hormones) could result in reversible sterilization (male contraception?). We use highly sophisticated electrophysiological techniques (patch clamping and intracellular voltage recordings) to study the physiological properties of the seminiferous. Seminiferous tubules are essentially made up of two types of cells:  Sertoli and germ cells. The Sertoli cells are crucial for the support and development of germ cells into sperm cells, and it is, therefore, the focus of our Andrology research. One particular feature of the blood-testis barrier (BTB) is the formation of tight junctions between adjacent Sertoli (TM4) cells (which constitutes the BTB). As these tight junctions develop between adjacent Sertoli cells (TM4 cell-line), the permeability across the monolayer decreases and this variable (TEER) can be measured using a Transepithelial resistance Ohmmeter. Our lab also measures intracellular potentials and membrane currents, which gives substantial insight into the transport of ions across a cell membrane as well as to the permeability of cell membranes.

We also investigate the effects of selected plant extracts on the assembly or disassembly of tight junction molecules. This indicates whether or not the BTB will be compromised and therefore by extension, also spermatogenesis. Identifying an active molecular species within a plant extract, capable of reversibly compromising the tight junction molecules, will be tantamount to identifying a male contraceptive.

The experimental techniques of this research provide exciting research avenues for the future testing of drugs (male contraceptives),  hormones or combinations thereof on the germinal epithelium (Sertoli cells). Our long-term goal is to present a physiological model of the seminiferous tubule showing the physiological mechanisms which could be modulated by either hormones, drugs or indigenous plant extracts, with a view to providing insight into the development of a reversible male contraceptive. Collaboration between Prof Doug Bowles (University of Missouri) and our Andrology research group has provided significant insights into the area of male contraception.

Andrology Research group: Prof D Fisher (PI), Prof Ralf Henkel, Prof Thomas Monsees, Prof Doug Bowles (MU), Dr Ekobi Ekpo, Averouz Maritz, Nicole Haines, Dr Sylvia Opuwar and Dr Kristian Leisegand.


Selected Publications:

Mentor, S, Cummings, F and Fisher, D. (2022) Comparative analysis of coating modalities for producing high resolution textured micrographs. Plos One-Lab Protocol. dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.bxd3pi8n. Impact factor: 3.04

Rado, M.and D. Fisher. (2022) The Paracrine Effect of Hypoxic and Normoxic Cancer Secretion on the Proliferation of Brain Endothelial Cells (bEnd.3). Cells 2022, 11, 1197.https://doi.org/10.3390/cells11071197. Impact Factor: 6.6

Mentor, S. and Fisher, D. (2022) The Ism between Endothelial Cilia and Endothelial Nanotubules Is an Evolving Concept in the Genesis of the BBB. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 23, 2457. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23052457. Impact Factor: 5.9.

Rado M., B. Flepisi and D. Fisher. (2022) The effect of normoxic and hypoxic U-87 glioblastoma paracrine secretion on the modulation of brain endothelial cells. Manuscript ID: Cells-1539871. Received: 20 December 2021: Accepted 7 January 2022. Impact Factor: 6.6.

Mentor, S., K.B. Makhathini and D. Fisher. (2022) The role of cytoskeletal proteins in the formation of a functional in vitro blood-brain barrier model. Manuscript ID: International Journal of Molecular Science IJMS-1491554. Received: 17 November 2021. Accepted 7 January 2022. Impact Factor: 5.9.

Zondagh, L.S., J. Joubert, S. Omoruyi, S. Mentor, S. F. Malan, OE Ekpo, D. Fisher. (2021). Multifunctional edaravone-N-benzyl pyridinium derivatives: AChE inhibition kinetics, in vitro neuroprotective activities and BBB permeability studies. Alzheimer’s Dement. 17 (Suppl. 9): e053939. DOI: 10.1002/alz.053939. Impact factor: 21.6.

Rado M., B. Flepisi and D. Fisher. (2021) Differential effects of normoxic versus hypoxic derived breast cancer paracrine factors on Brain endothelial cells. Biology Manuscript ID: biology-1419216. (Accepted). Impact Factor: 6.8.

Mhambi, S.; Fisher, D.; Tchoula Tchokonte, M.B.; Dube, A. (2021) Permeation Challenges of Drugs for Treatment of Neurological Tuberculosis and HIV and the Application of Magneto-Electric Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Systems. Pharmaceutics, 13, 1479. https://doi.org/10.3390/
pharmaceutics13091479. Impact Factor: 5.8

Mentor, S. and D. Fisher. (2021). High-resolution insights into the in vitro developing blood-brain barrier: Novel morphological features of endothelial nanotube function. Front. Neuroanat. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2021.661065. Impact Factor: 3.2

Fisher, D., R. Henkel. (2021). Vagal Nerve Stimulation for the Treatment of Male Factor Infertility. Andrologia, DOI: 10.1111/and.14069. Impact Factor: 1.5.

Fisher, D., K.A. Thomas and S Abdul-Rasool (2020). The Synergistic and Neuroprotective Effects of Alcohol-Antioxidant Treatment on Blood-Brain
Barrier Endothelial Cells. Alcohol Clin Exp Res., 44 (10),1997-2007. DOI: 10.1111/acer.14433. Impact Factor: 3.3.

Ralf Henkel, Ugochukwu Offor, David Fisher (2020). The Role of Infections and Leukocytes in Male Infertility. Andrologia  DOI: 10.1111/and.13743. Impact factor: 1.8

Alamu, O.; Rado, M.; Ekpo, O.; Fisher, D. (2020). Differential Sensitivity of Two Endothelial Cell Lines to Hydrogen Peroxide Toxicity: Relevance for In Vitro Studies of the Blood–Brain Barrier. Cells, 9, 403; doi:10.3390/cells9020403. Impact Factor: 6.6

Fisher D, Mentor S (2020) Are claudin-5 tight-junction proteins in the blood-brain barrier porous? Neural Regen Res 15(10):1838-1839. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.280308. Impact Factor: 5.2.

Ghaffarilaleh, V., Fisher, D., Henkel, R. (2019) Carica papaya seed extract slows human sperm, Journal of Ethnopharmacology,241,111972. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2019.111972. Impact factor: 3.7

Geofrey Omarch, Yunus Kippie, Shireen Mentor, Naushaad Ebrahim, David Fisher, Grace Murilla, Admire Dube and Hulda Swai. (2019). Comparative in vitro transportation of pentamidine across the blood-brain barrier using polycaprolactone nanoparticles and phosphatidylcholine liposomes. Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine, and Biotechnology, 47:1, 1428-1436, DOI: 10.1080/21691401.2019.1596923. Impact Factor: 3.01.

Fisher, D., F. Mosaval, D. Tharp, D. Bowles and R. Henkel. (2019). Oleanolic acid causes reversible contraception in male mice by increasing the permeability of the germinal epithelium. Reproduction, Fertility and Development, Article ID: RD18484: DOI: 10.1071/RD18484. Impact Factor: 2.1

Fisher, D. and S Mentor. (2017). Antioxidant-induced reductive stress has untoward consequences on the brain microvasculature. Neural Regen Res 12(5):743-744. Impact Factor: 5.2.

Mentor, S. and D. Fisher. (2017). Aggressive Antioxidant Reductive Stress Impairs Brain Endothelial Cell Angiogenesis and Blood Brain Barrier Function. Cur Neurovasc Res. Vol. 14, No. 2, PMID:27897111. Impact Factor: 2.3.

Mentor,S.and D. Fisher. (2017)The blood-brain barrier is adversely affected by excess Aspalathus linearis derived anti-oxidants. South African Journal of Botany 03/2017; 109:351. DOI: 10.1016/j.sajb.2017.01.113

Fisher, D., Gamieldien, K., Mafunda, P.S. (2015). Methamphetamine is not toxic but disrupts the cell cycle of blood-brain barrier endothelial cells. Neurotoxicity Research, 28 (1):8-17. DOI: 10.1007/s12640-015-9520-5. Impact Factor: 3.5.

Mufiga C., Fisher, D, Kruger, TF, Henkel, RR. (2013). The relationship between seminal leukocytes, oxidative status in the ejaculate, and apoptotic markers in human spermatozoa. Sys Bio Reprod Med. Early Online: 1–8, ISSN 1939-6368 print/1939-6376 online. DOI: 10.3109/19396368.2013.821540. Impact Factor: 1.18.

Henkel,R, Fransman,WO, Hipler,UC, Wiegand,C, Schreiber,G, Menkveld,R, Weitz,F, Fisher,D. (2012) Typha capensis (Rohrb.) N.E.Br. (bulrush) extract scavenges free radicals, inhibits collagenase activity and affects human sperm motility and mitochondrial membrane potential in vitro – A pilot study. Andrologia, 44, 287-294. Impact Factor: 1.5.

Mufiga C., Fisher, D, Kruger, TF, Henkel, RR. (2012). Leucocytes are associated with apoptosis in human spermatozoa. J Reprod Med Endocrinol 9: 358. Impact Factor: 1.5.

Prinsloo T. K., K. Gamieldien and D. Fisher. (2011) In vitro cytotoxic analysis of methamphetamine on mouse brain endothelial (bEnd5) cells. Sci Res Essays, Vol 7, 9. Impact Factor: 0.79.

Esterhuysen F., K. Gamieldien and D. Fisher. (2011) In vitro comparative analysis of street methamphetamine (‘tik’) cytotoxicity on mouse brain endothelial (bEnd5) cells. Sci Res Essays, Vol 7, 34. Impact Factor: 0.79.

Ogboko B., D. Fisher and R.Swart (2011). Cadmium and Lead Concentration in Saliva of Children in Ceres District of South Africa. J. Basic. Applied. Sci. Res.,1(8) 825-831.

Mukinda J. T., J.Syce, D.Fisher, M. Meyer. (2010) Effect of the Plant Matrix on the Uptake of Luteolin Derivatives-containing Artemisia afra Aqueous-extract in Caco-2 cells. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 130 439–449. Impact Factor: 2.99

Ogboko B., D. Fisher and R.Swart (2009). Levels of lead and cadmium in hair and saliva of school children in Ceres district, South Africa. AJFAND, Vol 9 (3), 948-961.

Benson, O., D. Fisher and R. Swart. (2008)  Iron Indices in school children in Ceres District of the Western Cape South Africa. Journal of Biomedical Investigation; 6(2):39-46.

Fransman,W, Weitz,F, Fisher,D, Kruger,T, Menkveld,R. and R. Henkel (2008). In vitro effects of Typha capensis extracts on sperm parameters. Int J Androl 31 (Suppl. 1): 15-16. Impact Factor: 1.5.

Henkel,R, Fransman,W, Hipler,UC, Schreiber,G, Weitz,F, Kruger,TF, Fisher,D, Menkveld,R (2009) Typha capensis extracts decrease ROS production and affect human sperm functions. Afr J Trad Compl Alt Med 6: 438-439. Impact Factor: 0.5.

Fisher, D.  (2002): New light shed on fluid formation in the seminiferous tubules of the rat. Journal of Physiology (Lond) (2002), 542.2, pp. 445 –452. Impact factor: 4.739.

 
Book Chapters:

Henkel R, Fisher D (2019). Mitochondrial Function and Male Infertility.
In: Arafa M, Elbardisi H, Majzoub A, Agarwal A (Eds) Genetics of Male Infertility: A Case-Based Guide for Clinicians. Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-37971-1 ISBN 978-3-030-37972-8 (eBook); https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-37972-8

Fisher D, O. Alamu (2020). The relationship between the blood-brain barrier, degenerative neuropathy and oxidative stress. In: Martin CR, Preedy VR, editors. Oxidative Stress and Dietary Antioxidants in Neurological Diseases. San Diego: Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-817780-8.

Olufemi Alamu, Mariam Rado, Okobi Ekpo and David Fisher (2020). Differential Sensitivity of Two Endothelial Cell Lines to Hydrogen Peroxide Toxicity: Relevance
for In Vitro Studies of the Blood–Brain Barrier: In: Roles and Functions of ROS and RNS in Cellular Physiology and Pathology. Ed Neven Zarkovic. MDPI. Pg100-103, ISBN 978-3-03928-782-6.
 

  • Effects of indigenous medicinal plants and their extracts on male reproductive functions
  • Relationship between sperm ROS production, normal morphology, chromatin condensation and DNA damage
  • Male genital tract infections
  • Obesity, metabolic syndrome and male fertility/infertility
  • Zinc metabolism and sperm motility
  • Prostate cancer
  • Aging males problems and their treatment

Current Projects

  • Effect of Eurycoma longifolia (Tongkat Ali) on prostate cancer cells and benign prostatic hyperplasia; 
  • Effect of South African herbal extracts on male reproductive functions; 
  • Are systemic inflammatory cytokines associated with the metabolic syndrome involved in the pathogenesis of male infertility?; 
  • The relationship between systemic oxidative stress, reproductive oxidative stress and infertility in men diagnosed with metabolic syndrome

The Molecular Oncology Drug Discovery and Lead Optimisation Technology (MODALOT) Division of the Department of Medical Biosciences is located in the Life Sciences Building (LSB) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). This division engenders the concept of applying innovative molecular technologies and combinatorial approaches to design and develop personalised cancer and other medicines that might be potentially beneficial to patients and profoundly impact drug commercialisation and health-care systems in the global arena. MODALOT strives to be an integral role player in developing cancer research potential and capacity in South Africa.  The strategic focus areas of MODALOT include comprehensive training of medical scientists in molecular oncology, oncotherapeutics and oncotechnology, strengthening of expertise in cancer drug discovery and development, realising the ideal of global excellence and creativity in oncology through bio partnerships with academia, government, industry and pharmaceutical companies, and advancing novel and beneficial cancer therapies.

Current Projects

  • At present, MODALOT explores six oncologic themes or paradigms. 
    • Multi-Targeted Kinase Inhibitors - Molecular and Therapeutic Targeting of Cancer Cell Signalling and Proliferation Networks: Correlation with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Biomarker Profiles, Drug Sensitivity, Resistance and the Efficacy of Drug Combinations;
    • Implications of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, the Unfolded Protein Response and Apoptosis for Molecular Cancer Therapy - Correlation of Drug-Induced Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, the Unfolded Protein Response and Apoptosis with Human Tumour Cell Growth and Survival;
    • The Role of P-Glycoprotein in Drug-Sensitive and Drug-Resistant Cancer Cell Lines and Correlation with Statins and Cancer Prevention Strategies - Analysis of Mechanism-Based Synergy with Anticancer Drugs;
    • Optimising Molecular-Targeted Therapies in Ovarian Cancer - The Renewed Surge of Interest in Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers and Cell Signalling Pathways;
    • Optimisation and Preclinical Design of Genetically-Engineered Viruses for Human Oncolytic Therapy;
    • Traditional- and Phyto-Medicines in Drug Combinations - The Search for Synergy and Increased Efficacy with Current Cancer Therapies

  • Research assistant in an immunology lab – cell separation, cell culture, flow cytometry
  • Research assistant in clinical trials on children with HIV/Aids – flow cytometry to determine: CD4/CD8, CD69 and CD18/CD80 cell counts; apoptosis with Annexin V; and burst test
  • Principal investigator of research project on mammalian sperm at UWC – semen analysis, sperm motility parameters using CASA, sperm morphometric measurements using ASMA, TEM to determine structure of sperm components, structure and viability of sperm mitochondria

Current Project

  • Morphometric features, function and species specificity of mammalian sperm mitochondria

Research: the effect of maternal nicotine exposure during gestation and/or lactation on lung development in the offspring
  • Morphometric, morphologic changes of the lungs of the offspring
  • Structural functional changes
  • Extracellular matrix adjustments
  • Tran generational effects

Research: the effect of maternal nicotine exposure during gestation and/or lactation on lung development in the offspring
  • Morphometric, morphologic changes of the lungs of the offspring
  • Structural functional changes
  • Extracellular matrix adjustments
  • Tran generational effects

I am in the process of developing an in-vitro model of the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) to answer the following questions:
  • How does street methamphetamine (“tik”) weaken the BBB?
  • How neurotoxic is “tik”?
  • How does “tik” affect the immune system?
  • Are there any medicinal plant extracts that can treat or reverse the damage caused by “tik”?
  • The techniques that I am using include tissue culture, basic histology and fluorescence microscopy.

  • Effect of traditional African medicinal plants on mammalian reproduction and reproductive cell physiology and toxicology
  • Fluorescence live cell imaging, analysis of intracellular events in real time, cell migration
  • Biocompatibility and clinical relevance of novel biomaterials

Current Projects

  • Effect of tea and indigenous rooibos and honeybush teas on mammalian reproduction and fertility
  • Effects of Libyan traditional plants on the reproductive system of male and female rats
  • Real-time fluorescence microscopy image analysis of testicular cell physiology in response to external stimuli"

Current research focus is on distribution of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use along the food chain (link between antimicrobial use in agriculture) with resistance in human pathogenic and commensal organisms.

Current projects

  • The detection of antibiotic residues in commercial poultry in the Western Cape region of South Africa.
  • The detection of antibiotic resistant pathogens in commercial food samples in the Western Cape.

Research:
The relationship between male genital tract infections, oxidative status, and apoptosis in human spermatozoa.
The metabolism and trafficking of zinc in the male reproductive tract and its relationship with the development and function of mammalian spermatozoa

Current Projects

  • Zinc trafficking in human spermatozoa

My research focus is the effects of environment (food, air and water) on physiological systems.

Specific projects that my group are currently busy with are:
  • The effects of informal settlements on the microbial and chemical quality of surface water.
  • The efficacy of sewage treatment plants to remove endocrine disruptors.
  • The development of bioremediation systems for endocrine disruptor removal from sewage.
  • The impact of food and natural products on mammalian physiological systems.
  • The development of Xenopus laevis organ cultures to monitor environmental toxicants.
  • Development and implementation of crab haemolymph biomarker assays for environmental monitoring.

Improving the quality of teaching and learning, by monitoring and evaluating the areas of anatomy and physiology.

Current projects

  • Multitasking in the classroom of Human Biology I for nursing, and the impact on the students' academic performance.