In what seems to be a major breakthrough in the fight against Ebola, a team of investigators and research assistants sponsored by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK)’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences has affirmed the discovery of seven drugs that can be used in the treatment of the dreaded disease.
Speaking at the 2014 Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Fair and Luncheon, held at the Juhel auditorium of UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State on 9 October, 2014, acting dean of the faculty and principal investigator of the UNIZIK-Nigerian Young Academy Ebola Drug Discovery Project Team, Dr Ikemefuna C. Uzochukwu, disclosed that the project team was willing to share the identities of these drugs with interested partners for further studies.
“The Ebola drug discovery project, which commenced on 1 September, has presently identified seven approved drugs with concurrent strong binding affinities for four different Ebola viral molecular targets (VP24, VP30, VP35 and VP40),” Uzochukwu said.
The principal investigator revealed that the team used two approaches – Computer-Aided Drug Design (CADD) and Drug Repurposing (DR) – to achieve the promising results.
On the issue of funding, the acting dean noted, with a sense of gratitude, that UNIZIK Vice Chancellor, Prof Joseph Ahaneku, had approved two million naira for computational resources for the project, adding that the fund was being processed with TETFUND.
Also speaking at the luncheon, UNIZIK’s DVC, Prof. Charles Esimone,who represented the VC, announced to the delight of the audience that the school management was in full support of academic researches that would not only end up as published papers but also benefit the general public.
He revealed that the VC’s vision for UNIZIK was to make it a research-based institution where the resulting products would generate appreciable income.
Towards the end of the programme, some forms were distributed to the dignitaries, especially representatives of industries and organisations, to express interest if they wished to collaborate with the project team. One of the participants, Dr Harry Obi-Nwosu, expressed his readiness to support the project by pledging N100,000.
Others notables at the event include Dr Joe Akabuike, Anambra State Commissioner for Health; Prof. Emeka Ezeonu, UNIZIK’s Director of Innovations; and Dr Ifeanyi Okoye, chairman of the event.