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~ Happy Hol idays

Feijoas promise new anti-fungal treatments As well as tasting great, the humble feijoa may also offer new treatments for life-threatening fungal infections according to a Victoria University researcher. Mona Mokhtari graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Science a couple of weeks ago, after conducting research into the antifungal properties of one of New Zealand’s favourite fruits. Researchers have been interested in the feijoa’s antibacterial and anti-cancer potential for some time but Mona’s research is one of only a handful of studies into its antifungal properties. “Fungal infections cause one million deaths per year worldwide—more than breast cancer or tuberculosis—and that’s even with the availability of antifungal drugs,” Mona says. “The problem is many of the anti-fungal drugs doctors have relied on for years are becoming less and less effective as these infections build up antifungal resistance. That’s why we need to expand the range of antifungal drugs doctors have at their disposal. “I became interested in feijoas, partly because New Zealand is so

passionate about them, but also because they’re a source of natural products. Research has shown that drugs based on naturally occurring compounds often produce fewer side effects in patients and can be taken in lower doses than synthetic drugs. “I worked with Foretaste Feijoa Fruit in the South Island to identify and test a particular compound in feijoas. I found that it is about 50 times more effective as an antifungal than as an antibacterial. That makes the compound very promising as the basis for a drug that kills fungal cells without hurting human cells or the beneficial bacteria in the guts of humans.” Mona says a lot more work needs to be done before a drug can be developed and made available to doctors. For the time being, she is starting a new project looking at the anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties of feijoas. “Now that the compound has been identified and once the research has been published, other researchers have a head start on turning this compound into something you might see in pharmacies in years ahead,” Mona says.

Mona Mokhtari graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Science a few weeks ago. PHOTO: Supplied

Christmas farewell for retiring Newtown jewellers By Jamie Adams

Long-standing Newtown retail business Amba Jewellers opened its doors for the last time on Christmas Eve with the husband-and-wife owners Pritilal and Tara Bhindi now retired. “We don’t usually open on Sundays - it’s the one exception, being our last day,” Pritilal says. Pritilal, 72, and Tara, 67, understand that the closure is sad news for all their loyal customers, but after 17 years of selling watches, rings and necklaces they say the time is right. “Customers have been coming in asking why we are going. It’s simply time to move on.” Selling jewellery is not just a family trait - “it runs in our blood”, Pritilal says. “We have family records that show our ancestors in India were jewellers 500 years ago.” Indeed the couple sold jewellery in their country of origin Fiji, before they immigrated to New Zealand in 1988.

They set up shop at 185 Riddiford Street in November 2000 and have always appreciated serving the local people. “We will miss customers. We enjoyed having them here,” Pritilal says. “We have had lots of happy experiences and have come to meet so many people,” Tara adds. The sentiment is reciprocated; one customer, who was in store having her custom-made broken watch repaired when the Cook Strait News visited, says she relied on the Bhindis’ expertise to have it fixed and tied back around her neck. Tara notes that customers came from many of the surrounding suburbs, such was its reputation for great service. Amba Jewellers’ closure means Lloyd Kelly is the only remaining retailer in Newtown for now. The couple could not confirm who would take over the shop but with their daughter Rina having helped with operation in recent years they were hopeful the family tradition would continue in the future.

Amba Jewellers owners Tara and Pritilal Bhindi have closed their store after operating for 17 years in Newtown. PHOTO: Jamie Adams

Cook Strait News 26-12-17  

Cook Strait News 26-12-17

Cook Strait News 26-12-17  

Cook Strait News 26-12-17