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A Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Maduike Ezeibe, is reported to have discovered a new drug for the treatment and cure of Human Immuno-deficiency Virus/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) after years of scientific research.
The breakthrough was presented to the World Virology Conference in Atlanta in 2015, and Antonio (Texas) in 2016. The drug, the professor disclosed, was produced with Aluminium Silicate and Magnesium Silicate (Synthetic Aluminium-Magnesium Silicate). Already, 10 persons living with the disease who volunteered to have the drug tested on them were made to apply through their doctor to the Vice Chancellor of the University and were treated daily with the Medicinal Synthetic Aluminium-Magnesium Silicate. The volunteers were subjected to monthly tests for viral loads and CD4-lymphocyte counts.
Also, he pointed out that the two minerals were already in use as medicines for the treatment of various animal and human diseases and averred that with the antiviral effects of the medicine, especially its ability to reach all cells (as nanoparticles) and the lymphocytes, makes HIV a conquered organism.
Furthermore, the medicine had been used to potentiate Ampicillin, Chloroquine, Piperazine and Sulphadimidin, among others just as the results of the laboratory tests had been published in many international scientific journals, including the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research.
Professor Ezeibe said that he was also about to sign a memorandum of understanding with a U.S.-based Scientific Research Publishing, publishers of World Journal of AIDS, for the publication of his book “How I came about the cure for HIV/AIDS”.
These are commendable milestones and we join the rest of the scientific world in congratulating Prof Ezeibe on his ground breaking discovery and also the University for providing the scientist with the enabling environment to flourish. However, we remind the researcher that the discovery, though an intellectual feat, must not be seen as an end in itself but as a bold step forward towards accomplishing greater tasks in the area of virology.
It is from this perspective that we invite the Federal Government- the Presidency, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to give the scientific success the due attention it deserves especially with regard to patenting it. Prof Ezeibe, who is doing something already in this regard as the medicine has been patented in Nigeria way back in August 2014, has called on the Federal Government to help him to secure international patency for the drug.
It is pertinent to emphasise that this is a matter that must not be left to the university alone or, for that matter, Prof Ezeibe, for the simple reason that it is an area of study that has continued to attract immense and intense attention and funding from the rich and developed countries. To this extent, therefore, we join him in urging the federal government not to take this epoch-making discovery lying low. The university and the researcher both need encouragement by way of funding and total backing so as to patent it in record time. The Ministry of Health, in our opinion, must see the need to spear-head the international exposure of this scientific achievement that has all the potential of providing a splendid advertisement for the country. The minister should immediately engage his counterpart in Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in a collaborative manner, so as to ensure that the discovery receives early patent. We expect Onyeama, in particular, to drive the process by exploring and exploiting his old boy network as a former Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) towards this goal. This demands an expeditious approach to it because research on the virus is ongoing at a dizzying pace that, without this patent, a rival scientist, may come up with something fast that could rubbish the giant strides of the Nigerian. And that will be very sad.
Also, we agree with the supposition that the drug and its patent have a commercial value that can rival oil as revenue earner. Local and international pharmaceutical companies are already waiting. This is, certainly, a low hanging apple ready to be plucked.