The good tidings from the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa state, was that a don at the institution has developed herbal-based drugs for the cure of two serious medical conditions – diabetes and cancer. The breakthrough was recorded by Dr. Salihu Ibrahim Isma’il of the Department of Biochemistry of the relatively young institution.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Fatima Batul-Muktar, while addressing a news conference in Dutse, made public the accomplishment not too long ago. She said: “I am glad to inform you that one of our staff, Dr. Salihu Ibrahim Isma’il of the Biochemistry Department has developed herbal anti-diabetic and anti-cancer drugs”.
The vice chancellor also disclosed that the anti-diabetic drug has successfully passed a pre-clinical stage, while assuring that the institution had got ethical approval for clinical trial by Kano State Hospitals Management Board (KSHMB).
According to her, the clinical trial will soon commence at Muhammad Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital (MAWSH), Kano. Prof. Batul-Muktar, who identified research as one of the important components of a university, noted that some academic staff had successfully completed 16 research works in different fields since its establishment in 2011, adding “19 research works are currently ongoing”.
The feat recorded at the Federal University, Dutse came on coming on the heels of a similar breakthrough recorded at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) which has successfully researched and developed six traditional herbal products for the treatment of Ebola, Malaria and other diseases.
The NIPRD Director-General, Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, said this while presenting the score card of his eight-year tenure (2009 to 2017) in Abuja recently. He said that ‘NIPRIBOL’, a fixed dose combination drug was developed by the institute for the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease, and that the institute had completed the Phase I study of the drug.
Prof. Gamaniel said that the institute had also developed ‘NIPRIMAL’, an anti-malaria medication for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria, stating that the drug was also safe for use by pregnant women. Other drugs on its card are ‘NIPRIMUNE’, an immunostimulant which can also be used to manage HIV in Nigeria, and ‘NIPRIFAN’ for the treatment of fungal skin infection.
He said that another product developed by the institute, ‘NIPRD Oil’, could be used as a nasal decongestant, insect repellant, air freshener and an anti-inflammatory agent. He further disclosed that the institute had in addition developed ‘NIPRISAN’ for the management of sickle cell anaemia.
“We have also ensured the introduction of traditional herbal medicine into the national health system and established partnerships with local and international organisations.
“The core competence of NIPRD is in the development of phytomedicines from indigenous plants and products, clinical trials, among others; we are a quality-assured institute,” Gamaniel said. The NIPRD has the mandate to develop drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials from indigenous resources towards the growth and development of the country.
The developments at the Federal University, Dutse, and the NIPRD are testaments to the fact that given the right environment and motivation, Nigerians can achieve successes without having to go abroad. Our universities are supposed to be centres of research and discovery.
However, very few of them can stand up to be counted. Our public universities are notorious for strikes and rancor. It is in the light of this that we give kudos to Dr. Isma’il for his discovery with the hope that the generality of the people will avail themselves of the medications to cure the deadly diseases.
We urge the university to enter into partnership with credible pharmaceutical firms with a view to mass producing the drugs.
While urging other researchers in our various universities and similar institutions to emulate Dr. Isma’il, we equally commend the NIPRD for living up to its mandate. Many of such institutes across the land have existed as glorified research centres pampered with all manner of allocations with nothing concrete to justify their creation.
The government at all levels and corporate organisations are advised to invest in research findings by our tertiary institutions as a way of weaning the nation from consumption of imported products with their attendant costs to our foreign exchange.