From Left to Right:Mr Pule Seboletswe (MSc student), Mr Bruno Steiner, Mr Michael Nengwekhulu (Principal technician) and Dr Zimbili Mkhize.
The Camag HPTLC system equipped with Camag Automatic TLC Sampler 4, Camag ADC2 (Automatic Development Chamber), CAMAG Visualiser 2 (Documentation System), Camag TLC Scanner and VisionCATS (Camag HPTLC software) was recently procured by the Chemistry Department at the North-West University (NWU) Mafikeng Campus. NWU Mafikeng Campus is the second institution in the country to acquire the complete Camag HPTLC system from Bruno Steiner Lab Consultancy. Prof. Lebogang Katata-Seru, Dr Zimbili Mkhize and Mr Pule Seboletswe (MSc student) have been trained by Camag, in Switzerland, to attain ‘hands-on’ experience on this advanced instrumentation.
HPTLC is an advanced Thin-Layer Chromatography technique automating a number of steps in order to increase the quality of resolution whilst, accurately estimating chemical constituents. The system is used in standardisation, identification, and quality control analysis of complex plant extracts. This chromatographic-fingerprinting technique is very useful due to its advantages that include its ability to use relative small volumes of mobile phase to run several samples simultaneously on the same plate. In comparison to HPLC, there is no need for sample preparation, no blockages of columns and an ease of determination of components as a peak formation and as colour. Thus, there is a reduced cost per analysis as well as reduced analysis time.
Africa is an important producer of medicinal plants to the world’s drug market. South Africa has a rich knowledge of HPTLC Method Collection and the HPTLC Atlas of uses of medicinal plants, as there are thousands of plant species used for medicinal purposes. In the Chemistry department, the complete system is utilised for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of biomarkers present in the crude extracts of South African medicinal plants which assists in overcoming different ailments. Future plans includes partnership with the HPTLC Association in HPTLC Method Collection and the development of the HPTLC Atlas. In addition to this, collaborations include working on African Plants which is of relevance to the local industry thus, promoting engagements with farmers and companies to develop reasonable approaches for quality control.