Nigeria's pharmaceutical institute develops Ebola drug

Posted by News Express | 23 September 2015 | 3,892 times

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The Director-General, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research Development, Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, has said that the institute is carrying out clinical trials of vaccine for Ebola Virus Disease.

Gamaniel, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said the institute was carrying out the research in collaboration with the 2014 Ebola Response Committee.

The director general said the response committee was set up in 2014 by the former Minister of Health; Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, after the first Ebola case was recorded in Nigeria.

NAN recalls that Mr. Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old Liberian, was the first confirmed case of the highly contagious and deadly disease in Nigeria.

Gamaniel, who was also a member of the response committee, said the move to produce a vaccine for the virus was to equip the country in any future crisis.

He said that after Nigeria was declared Ebola free by WHO, the committee remained active as it discovered that no country in the world had produced any vaccine to treat the disease.

“During the outbreak, the committee was given the mandate of looking all over the world to find documents that could be used to identify the best treatment for Ebola.

“This is because we needed an antidote immediately as people were already dying from the disease.

“The committee called on people who may have any traditional or orthodox method to resolving the crisis. We were to analyse the methods and give a report.

“We identified and got reports on methods that were used either directly or indirectly on Ebola; interestingly there was no single registered drug or product all over the world at the time.

“There was trial going on in Japan at the time but no company had registered any product which could be used to fight Ebola.

“What we did was to use some of the products that were in clinical trial at the time. These products were mostly produced to fight the Influenza virus.

“We identified this and made a recommendation to the Federal Government who gave the go-ahead to use the drugs that were being experimented on.

“Government had little or no option because the death toll continued to rise; so with the drugs, quarantine, fumigation, sensitisation and seclusion of infected persons in Nigeria recorded success.”

The director general said through collaborative efforts, a drug had been produced with the combination of three different drugs.

He said the drug was currently being clinical tested as it needed to undergo direct study in a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory.

Gamaniel said the study was a crucial step in the final phase of the production of the drug, adding that it would also give credence to the research being carried out.

“Since we had drugs that were already being clinically tried we improved on these drugs and certified that combining them could produce a treatment for the virus.

“We had to ensure that these drugs when administered did not cause harm to the human body like the brain, heart, liver and other parts.

“We have had to test these drugs and monitor their effects. They have already been approved in the past only that we are now using them in a combined form.

“The drug we produced from these combinations is already in clinical trial although there is need for a direct study in a Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory which we do not have in the country.

“This laboratory is not found just anywhere; it is a special laboratory because the disease is very deadly it causes death at a fast rate and so it constitutes a great risk and one needs to be careful when handling such trials.

“You will recall that some doctors and nurses who assisted during the outbreak lost their lives. “There is need for an exclusive laboratory to handle the trial because it is a biological weapon.

“The institute has often times depended on collaborations with foreign organisations to carry out some clinical trials on drugs and this time we are still getting this support.”

The director general said the success of the study and its certification by relevant national and international organisation would impact positively on the image of the country.

He said that it would also give citizens the assurance that they were safe in the event of any future crisis. (NAN)

•Photo shows NIPRD DG, Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel.

Source: News Express

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