Emeritus Professor Okogun Calls for Review Process to Boost Homegrown Drug Production


    Martins Ifijeh

    Stakeholders at every level of intervention have been advised to collaborate and review administrative processes and the approach leading to the identification of plants, scientific research, development and approval of remedies and drug production from Nigerian herbs and plants.

    This call was made by Emeritus Prof. Joseph Okogun, of the Department of Chemistry, University of Ibadan, at a Public Lecture as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday by Bevekt Gedu Chemical Company.

    The lecture titled, Active, Bitter and Sweet – A lifetime of Research on Plants, Anti-Cancer Remedies and Drug Discovery, focused on plants as unrivaled organic chemicals producing useful chemicals that man exploits for various purposes. It also focused on the reasons why the natural chemistry of plants is important to healthy living.

    Okogun, who spoke on a variety of active ingredients that have been discovered from everyday leaves and fruits found in Nigeria and West Afric, said: “There are organic and natural remedies for the management of various diseases including cancer and HIV/AIDS using several decades of data from scientific research on plants by Bevekt Gedu.

    ”Out of Bevekt Gedu’s work, a pure compound initially obtained from a Nigerian plant which has been adopted and about to be finalized for drug development as a blockbuster drug by IMI of USA. This is an indication that opportunities for long lasting and sustainable investments are abundant locally” says. Okogun.

    Okogun further explained the extraction, isolation, analysis and modification of active natural products for potential drug leads or drugs and molecular probes; and the role of different professionals in the process of drug discovery.

    He explained that biological activity screening is done by pharmacognosists, pharmaceutical chemists, pharmacologists, biochemists and microbiologists to identify potential drugs and other biologically active compounds including pesticides. Toxicologists determine the toxicity including teratogenicity of identified potential drugs.

    “When biologically active compounds are identified, there may need to improve on the activity and or toxicity by modifying the structures using chemistry linked with biology. Identified potential drugs with known mechanism of actions are used as molecular probes in diagnosis and disease research,” he said.

    The event was chaired by Adama Okoene, former MD, Midwestern Oil. It was attended by healthcare professionals, academicians and other professionals from public and private sectors.