Thursday, 28 May 2015


ACCORDING to a research, led by Professor Maurice Iwu, head, the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme, a plant, commonly eaten in West Africa, Garcinia kola has been found to halt the deadly Ebola virus in its tracks in laboratory tests.
If repeated in humans, this would give the body a chance to fight off the virus.
They used a compound from Garcinia kola, a plant. Compounds from the plant have also proved effective against some strains of flu.
If the anti-Ebola compound proves successful in animal and human trials, it will be the first medicine to successfully treat the virus that causes Ebola haemorrhagic fever, an often-fatal condition.
The discovery was announced at the 16th International Botanical Congress in St Louis in the United States of America in 1999.
The Ebola virus was first documented in 1976 after an outbreak in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where 88 per cent of the 318 human cases died.
More recently, a 1995 outbreak in the same country had a death rate of 81% of the 315 infected.
There are four types of the virus; they include Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan and Ebola-Ivory Coast, which affect humans and Ebola-Reston, which has so far only affected monkeys and chimpanzees.
“This is a very exciting discovery, the same forest that yields the dreaded Ebola virus could be a source of the cure.” said Professor Iwu.
The virus multiplies rapidly in the human body and quickly overwhelms it, and in advanced cases the patient develops high fever and severe bleeding.
The active compound in the Garcinia kola is what is known as a dimeric flavonoid, which is two flavonoid molecules fused together.
Flavonoids are non-toxic and can be found in orange and lemon rinds as well as the colourings of other plants.
The tests are in the early stages still, but the researchers hope that if they continue to prove successful the compound the US Food and Drug Administration will put it on a fast track, making a drug available to humans within a matter of years.
“The discovery of these important properties in a simple compound; flavonoids, was very surprising,” said Dr Iwu.
“The structure of this compound lends itself to modification, so it provides a template for future work.
“Even if this particular drug does not succeed through the whole drug approval process, we can use it to construct a new drug for this deadly disease,” he added.

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