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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Molecular research could help Nigeria solve a host of health problems

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Our world and all the things in it’s made up of innumerable tiny molecules. These molecules are the smallest models of chemical compounds or dwelling issues. Viruses, micro organism, parasites, vegetation, animals, people: every organism is underpinned by molecules. Learning them permits scientists to know the fundamental rules and interactions that govern all types of life.

Shifts at such fundamental ranges change the best way an organism seems to be or capabilities. That’s important in understanding illnesses, for one factor. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, molecular analysis enabled scientists to shortly perceive how the brand new coronavirus behaved and the way to forestall an infection. That, in flip, drove vaccine growth.

Molecular analysis may additionally, in future, make it doable to personalise drugs – basing therapy on a affected person’s DNA. And it could be key to progress within the therapy of illnesses similar to sickle cell anaemia, diabetes and most cancers.

There’s an issue, although: molecular analysis is pricey. It requires specialised gear and chemical compounds, which is expensive.

In Nigeria, the place I conduct molecular analysis – and in lots of different African international locations – there’s little or no state funding for analysis and growth. Nigeria’s TETFund, the federal government company chargeable for all greater training funding, has very restricted sources. Molecular analysis is usually uncared for in funding selections in favour of different types of analysis that would present quick options to urgent societal wants, similar to quick management measures for illness outbreaks.

As I argued in a current journal article, although, molecular analysis will help tackle a few of Nigeria’s well being wants. Nigeria has a wealthy biodiversity of people, animals and vegetation whose molecular compositions might maintain clues to future developments in medical science. The nation additionally bears an enormous burden of infectious illness. Microorganisms that trigger illnesses abound within the tropical local weather of Nigeria.

Funding in analysis into the molecular traits of those microorganisms would go a good distance in illness management and administration each regionally and globally.

Untapped contributions

It’s price noting what Nigeria’s molecular analysis scientists have already been in a position to obtain with out good sources.

They had been on the forefront of sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 genome inside days of the primary an infection being recorded on Nigerian soil. This work allowed them to publish the primary SARS-CoV-2 sequence knowledge on the African continent. This was made doable by a few years of worldwide and native funding to construct capability on the African Centre of Excellence for the Genomics of Infectious Illness and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Analysis.

Learn extra:
Nigerian scientists have recognized seven lineages of SARS-CoV-2: why it issues

Think about how way more might be completed and the way Nigeria may contribute to international well being options if its quite a few wonderful scientists had been correctly outfitted with ample services.

South Africa has demonstrated this devoted analysis help by way of its Nationwide Analysis Basis. Big funds have been invested in analysis for the management of HIV and AIDS and, extra lately, COVID-19.

At current, most Nigerian molecular analysis scientists would not have the specialised analysis gear they want. That is due to value and restricted availability. Most of this gear, and the chemical reagents wanted for this work, is imported. There are just a few specialised reference molecular laboratories within the nation, however not practically sufficient to serve the wants of this nation of greater than 200 million folks.

Universities, that are the perfect areas for such analysis services, don’t supply ample institutional help for procuring molecular analysis gear and reagents.

But there are various illnesses peculiar to the nation and area, for which new remedies might be simply developed with assistance from molecular analysis. They embody genetic illnesses like sickle cell, noncommunicable illnesses like diabetes, and infectious illnesses like malaria and uncared for tropical illnesses (amongst them river blindness and sleeping illness or African trypanosomiasis).

Learn extra:
New discovering gives breakthrough in beating African sleeping illness

Nigeria – and the African continent – can not proceed to attend for western researchers to seek out options to those peculiar well being challenges.

Concerted effort

Nigeria has the chance to contribute an unlimited quantity of information to molecular analysis. For this to occur, a concerted effort is required by the federal government, establishments, native and worldwide funding our bodies, and molecular researchers themselves.

COVID-19 has taught us {that a} well being downside in a single place may threaten international well being. Subsequently all palms must be on deck to sort out well being challenges wherever they happen.

There’s a robust want for nationwide and worldwide funding our bodies to extend funding allocations to enhance molecular analysis capability in Africa. Additionally, universities and analysis establishments ought to present an enabling setting by offering easy accessibility to the gear and services that researchers want. Researchers will thus be inspired to seek out options to well being challenges and prepare extra scientists.

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