Written by Administrator Saturday, 20 August 2011 15:45
South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced recently that it is to collaborate with researchers in Kenya to develop a nano-medicine technology aimed to revolutionise treatment of communicable diseases.
The aim of the technology is to improve on the efficiency of the existing drugs used in the treatment of diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.
The head of CSIR Dr Hulda Swai said in Nairobi that the use of Nano-medicine and nanotechnology has the capacity to achieve breakthroughs in healthcare.
“This technology is doable,” Dr Swai said, “It has the potential to enable early detection and prevention, and to essentially improve diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of diseases.”
Nano-medicine is defined as the application of nanotechnology to achieve breakthroughs in healthcare. It exploits the improved chemical and biological properties of drug materials.
“Despite their potency, drugs like premaquine are not soluble and are very toxic. This has led to poor adherence which has in turn led to the emergence of drug resistance strains,” she said.
Drug resistance according to Dr Swai leads to high dose and high frequency and hence long treatment durations associated with negative side effects.
“Accordingly, the drawbacks of conventional treatment necessitate the development of a delivery carrier system which can release the drug in a slow and steady manner over a period of time to the affected parts of the body,” Dr Swai said.
A researcher at Kenya Medical Research Institute, Dr Bernads Ogutu said the nanotechnology gives Africa an opportunity to develop a drug customized for its market.
“If successful it has the potential to bring down the cost of healthcare with minimal impact.”
“We envisage that nanotechnology based drug delivery will improve patient compliance to treatment, drug resistant more effectively and reduce the infection rates.
Sub-Saharan Africa bears the brunt of poverty-related diseases. Current therapies against the diseases are inadequate and warrant a leap in drug development approaches.