NIMR capable of producing diagnostic kits for any disease-Salako

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By Kemi Akintokun

Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), says the institute has the capability to produce diagnostic kits for any disease(s).

Salako told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday that NIMR had the expertise who had perfected the techniques, having produced various diagnostics kits.

He noted that case detection was key to reducing the burden of diseases through testing, adding that NIMR was able to contribute significantly to the fight against COVID-19 through its test kits.

” Before COVID-19, we sent three of our researchers to China to learn pathogen identification and we also sent two to Senegal where we used to take samples, to learn what they are doing.

” They came back before COVID-19 broke out in China. We wrote to them and they sent 200 samples of their diagnostic kits to us and we started testing for COVID-19 before the first case was detected in the country.

“So, our researchers created an MRNA extraction kit and went ahead to produce another one that works with a PCR and that was the beginning of NIMR’s fame.

“We tested over 60,000 Nigerians through our drive-in and walk-in COVID-19 testing at the institute using our diagnostic kits.

” All the kits we produced were validated by external body and their accuracy was confirmed.

“So, I can say NIMR is capable of making any diagnostic kits 100 per cent confidently,” he said.

Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) is a critical part of human makeup. mRNA molecules carry the genetic information needed to make proteins.

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They’re single-stranded molecules that carry genetic code from DNA in a cell’s nucleus to ribosomes, which make protein in the cells.

These molecules are called messenger RNA because they carry instructions for producing proteins from one part of the cell to another.

Salako added that the institute also focused on producing diagnostic kits for some other diseases in the country.

“We have done diagnostic kits for Mpox, Lassa fever, Yellow fever and Hepatitis B and more are still on the pipeline because these are diseases that affect us as a people,” he said.

On research, Salako said the country was among the top countries leading research in Africa.

“Nigeria stands number two when we talk about research in Africa even with our poor funding.

“In terms of original research, contribution to science or attracting funding or grant from external bodies, if you put everything generally by measuring research productivity, we are behind South Africa.

“Imagine what will happen if we have good governance and the appropriate level of workforce,” he said. (NAN)

Edited by Augusta Uchediunor and Vivian Ihechu

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