Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Maurice Iwu announced yesterday March 2, that an institute he owns has found the cure for the dreaded coronavirus.
The former INEC Chairman who is the CEO of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION), made the disclosure during a meeting between his researchers and the Ministers of Science and Technology and Health in Abuja.
He disclosed that the institute identified and patented the possible COVID 19 treatment far back in 2015 at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he was a professor of Pharmacognosy and continued in America when he was visiting scholar at the Division of experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington DC, USA, between 1994 and 2003. Iwu said the research was reactivated during the Ebola epidemic.
The former INEC Chairman also recounted how his company collaborated with leading laboratories from different parts of the world to come up with anti-Ebola virus activity of three structurally characterised compounds from Nigerian plants which were subsequently granted patent protection by the federal government of Nigeria in 2018.
“I am here to formally brief you about our drug discovery project, which has led to the identification of a potential treatment agent for coronavirus infections.
‘’You will recall that on July 23, 2018, you presented to scientists of the Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) patent certificates granted by the Trade mark, Patent and Design Registry facilitated by the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, NOTAP.
“The three patents granted to us NG/p?2015.84; NG/P/2015/85 and NG/P/2015/97 were based on discoveries from the natural products drugs screening programme at Bioresources Institute of Nigeria, BION, focused in Neglected Tropical Diseases, emergent Infections and Orphan diseases.’’
Iwu who sought for the federal government's assistance to translate the compound into drug for treatment of virus, further disclosed that the lead drug discovery project includes the chemical isolation and characterization of naturally occurring compounds and subjecting them to a battery of bioassays for the identification of potentially useful drug-lead molecules.
‘’Our approach is the use of a network of eminent scientists and leading laboratories to target particular diseases, especially fever virus, Chikungunya, Coronarus and Tacaribe virus; and chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases."
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mohammed Abdullahi who spoke to newsmen at the end of the meeting said the discovery has been sent to the Special Committee on the Nigerian Academy of Sciences.
“As part of the ongoing conversation on Coronavirus (COVID-19), the FMSTNG hosted Prof Maurice Iwu, who intimated us of his drug discovery project with a potential as a treatment agent for COVID-19.
“FMSTNG referred the discovery to its special committee set up to asses such claims.
“President of Nigerian Academy of Sciences will chair the special committee to verify these claims.”
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who expressed happiness with the discovery said;
“We cannot continue to copy other countries but show that we have the best brains in Nigeria. It is gladdening to know that the NIHS had already entered an MoU with the BION. The ministry had already set up a Committee to look into any drug related issues’’