Vinesh Maharaj

Prof V Maharaj

Tel:               +27 (0)12 420-2839
Email:          [email protected]
Office:          Dean’s Office - Agricultural Sciences Building

Position:      Deputy Dean: Research and Postgraduate studies

Academic qualification:     PhD Chemistry (UNISA)

NRF rating:   C2

Research interests

Prof Vinesh Maharaj is a natural product chemist and is trained in the discovery of new drug leads based on biodiversity samples. This then led to him establishing himself as leading Bioprospecting in South Africa as well internationally, focusing on biodiversity and traditional knowledge being a source of new pharmaceuticals and now leads the Biodiscovery group in the department. A major project which he leads is the systematic investigation of thousands of indigenous plants as part of a multi-year project aimed at discovering drugs, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals from South Africa’s indigenous plants and is extensively involved in collaborative programmes with holders of indigenous knowledge such as traditional health practitioners.

The main focus of the Biodiscovery group is to create a unique repository of natural products in the Chemistry Department. A collection of samples comprising thousands of plant extracts and 10 000 dry plants are being is being used as the basis for the library. This is being converted into purified samples consisting of semi purified fractions and natural compounds stored in microtiter plates ready for high through-put screening purposes.  The infrastructure includes high end hyphenated analytical equipment such as HPLC MS, HPLC-MS-NMR as well as existing UPLC QTOF MS systems for the chemical characterization of the library while robotic liquid handlers and robotic freezers are used for the front-end management of the samples together with a database for future artificial intelligence purposes.


To view all publications go to Google Scholar Vinesh Maharaj

Selected Journal articles

Buntubonke Mzondo, Nomusa Dlamini, Frederick P. Malan, Philip Labuschagne, Venugopal R. Bovilla, SubbaRao V. Madhunapantula, Vinesh Maharaj,  Dammarane-type triterpenoids with anti-cancer activity from the leaves of Cleome gynandra,  Phytochemistry Letters, 2021, 43, 16–22

Phanankosi Moyo, William Shamburger, Mariëtte E. van der Watta, Janette Readera, Ana Carolina C. de Sousa, Timothy J. Egan, Vinesh J. Maharaj, Gerhard Bringmann, Lyn-Marie Birkholtz, Naphthylisoquinoline alkaloids, validated as hit multistage antiplasmodial natural products, IJP: Drugs and Drug Resistance 13, (2020), 51–58

Phanankosi Moyo, Grace Mugumbate, Jacobus N. Elo, Abraham I. Louw, Vinesh J. Maharaj and Lyn-Marié Birkholtz, Natural Products: A Potential Source of Malaria Transmission Blocking Drugs? Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 251; doi:10.3390/ph13090251

Mary Nokuthula Sibanyoni, Sushil Kumar Chaudhary, Weiyang Chena, Hamid-Reza Adhami, Sandra Combrinck, Vinesh Maharaj, Daniela Schuster, Alvaro Viljoen, Isolation, in vitro evaluation and molecular docking of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors from South African Amaryllidaceae, Fitoterapia, 2020, Volume 146, October 2020, 104650,

Phanankosi Moyo, Phaladi Kunyane, Mamoalosi A. Selepe, Jacobus N. Eloff, Jandeli Niemand, Abraham I. Louw, Vinesh J. Maharaj and LynMarie Birkholtz, Bioassay-guided isolation and identification of gametocytocidal compounds from Artemisia afra (Asteraceae), Malaria Journal, (2019) 18:65 Anuradha Thakura,Yoon Sun Chun, Natasha October, Hyun Ok Yang, Vinesh Maharaj, Potential of South African medicinal plants targeting the reduction of Aβ42 protein as a treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 231 (2019) 363–373.

Raghunath Dasa, Venkata Satyanarayana Sypua, Hugues Kamdem Paumoa, Madhumita Bhaumika, Vinesh Maharaj, Arjun Maity, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 244 (2019) 546–558

Tinotenda Shoko, Vinesh J. Maharaj, Dashnie Naidoo, Malefa Tselanyane, Rudzani Nthambeleni, Eric Khorombi and Zeno Apostolides, Anti-aging potential of extracts from Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst and its chemical profiling by UPLC-Q-TOF-MS BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2018) 18:54, DOI 10.1186/s12906-018-2112-1

Mokoka, T.A., Xolani, P.K., Zimmermann, S., Hata, Y., Adams, M., Kaiser, M., Moodley, N., Maharaj, V., Koorbanally, N.A., Hamburger, M., Brun, R., Fouche, G. Antiprotozoal screening of 60 South African plants, and the identification of the antitrypanosomal germacranolides schkuhrin i and II, Planta Medica 2013, 79, (14) , pp. 1380-1384

Justin J. Omolo, Vinesh Maharaj, Dashnie Naidoo, Thomas Klimkait, Hamisi M. Malebo,  Samwel Mtullu, Herbert V. M. Lyaruu, and Charles B. de Kon, Bioassay-Guided Investigation of the Tanzanian Plant Pyrenacantha kaurabassana for Potential Anti-HIV-Active Compound, Journal of Natural Products, Oct 2012, Vol. 75 Issue 10, p1712-1716.

Fanie R. van Heerden, R. Marthinus Horak, Vinesh J. Maharaj, Robert Vleggaar, Jeremiah V. Senabe, Philip J. Gunning, An appetite suppressant from Hoodia species, Phytochemistry, 68 (2007) 2545–2553.

Cailean Clarkson, Neil R. Crouch, Olwen M. Grace, Vinesh J. Maharaj, Pamisha Pillay, Motlalepula G. Matsabisa, Niresh Bhagwandin, Peter J. Smith, Peter I. Folb,  In vitro antiplasmodial activity of South African medicinal plants. J. of Ethnopharmacology, 92, (2004), 177-191.

Selected patents

F.R. van Heerden, R. Vleggaar, R.M. Horak, R.A. Learmonth, V. Maharaj, R. Whittal, Pharmaceutical compositions having appetite suppressant activity. PCT application WO 98/46243 and corresponding patents / patent applications. Filed: 15 April 1998.

R.M.Horak, V. Maharaj, J. Hakkinen, Inhibitors of gastric acid secretion. GB patent 2355657 and corresponding patents / patent applications. Filed: 27 October 1999.

R. M. Horak, E. Wadiwala, G. Fouche, M.M. Muranova, V.J. Maharaj, L.G.J. Ackerman, Preventative treatment and remission of asthma and allergic diseases,  PCT.,  PCT/IB2007/050649

V.J.Maharaj, G. Fouche, L.G.J.Ackerman, M.M. Muranova, E.T. Khorombi, R.M. Horak,  Plant extracts useful in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. PCT appl, PCT/IB2007/051951

V.J.Maharaj, G. Fouche, L.G.J.Ackerman, X.Mthembu, Management of Benign Prostatic hyperplasia, PCT/IB2008/051330

COMPOSITION FOR PREVENTING OR TREATING DEMENTIA COMPRISING EXTRACTS OF MONSONIA SPECIES. Yang, Hyun Ok, Chung, Sung-kwon, Kwon, Hak Cheol, Cha, Jin Wook, Maharaj, Vinesh Jaichand, Nthambeleni, Rudzani, Naidoo, Dashnie, Kim, Young-joo Ham, Jungyeob, Senabe, Jeremiah, Fouche, Gerda, Khorombi, Eric, Kim, Joon Ki, , European Union,  EP 2 712 619 A1


Collaborations have already been established with Wistar Institute in the United States for COVID 19 anti-viral screening, University of Basel, Switzerland for HIV and COVID-19 screening; Welcome Institute for Infectious Diseases, University of Dundee and University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon for treatment of leishmaniasis and human African trypanosomiasis, National Cancer Institute in the US and JSS University in India for anti-cancer screening, Zhejiang University in China for inflammatory diseases and South African Medical Research Council for anti-diabetic research.

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