Journalism of Courage

COVID-19: Prof. Iwu says cure for virus found in Nigeria 


A Professor of Pharmacognosy, Maurice Iwu, says Nigeria has developed drugs for the deadly Coronavirus.
Iwu, a former chairman of INEC, said his research group had identified and patented a possible treatment for coronavirus as far back as 2015.
“We discovered the cure for COVID-19 to remain ahead of emergent infections through research, Iwu told Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology,
According to the professor, the project started at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and continued in America when he was a visiting scholar at the Division of Experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington DC.

The research had in 2014 also discovered an experimental lead compound that was identified 15 years earlier in 1999, lwu explained.

“It is very important that we must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research.

“The other aspect of our work targets the so-called orphan diseases that are rare diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 people, or disease that has not been adopted by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentives for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat or prevent them, and/or diseases that affect mainly the poor.

“The drug discovery project was started at the University of Nigeria Nsukka where I was a Professor of Pharmacognosy and continued in America when I was a visiting Scholar at the Division of Experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington DC USA (1994 -2003).

“Coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -Coronavirus) our approach is the use of a network of eminent scientists and leading laboratories to target particular diseases, especially neglected tropical, emergent diseases and orphan diseases such as Ebola virus and Dengue Fever, among others.

“Honourable Minister, it is important to note that COVID -19 belongs to a class of viruses that are very common, some more serious than others, the class includes the flu virus, SARS, and MERS.

“They are RNA viruses, which allow them to mutate easily and spread between species. SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) Coronaviruses are more lethal than COVID – 19.

“We are willing to make available the lead compounds and the phytomedicine (IHP – Detox Tea, NAFDAC listed), which contain the active molecule, a bicyclic diterpenoid lactone for possible evaluation by other laboratories with appropriate testing facility both in Nigeria and overseas,” he said.

According to Iwu, Bioresources Institute of Nigeria, BION, is a member of the Bioresources Development Group, BDG, an independent biosciences research and development organization that cultivates, processes and produces medicines, nutraceuticals and cosmetics from natural products.

 He said BDG is probably the largest private research organization in Africa devoted to natural products research and development.

Former INEC boss also:“The need for constant and continuous research on neglected tropical diseases, emergent infections and orphan diseases can never be emphasized enough in terms of advancement of science generally and medicaments, methods and practices of health care delivery in particular, as diseases and public health crises may occur at any time often without discernible warnings.

” It is at the time of urgent and emergent public health crises such as epidemics and pandemics that the advantage of preparing for the unknown and unexpected in advance pays lifesaving dividends beyond what any sporadic or reactive measures can ever provide.

“It is in the light of this that we must credit collaborators and other donors for the substantial financial contribution made to our group in 2014/2015 for the development of prophylactic and curative Phytomedicines in the treatment of Ebola and other viral diseases.

“The wisdom of such contributions of funds to a private group of researchers was not always obvious until a crisis of the nature of the coronavirus epidemics and other pandemics that occur and the fruits of such public investments become openly and publicly apparent.”
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