The research feat of the African Centres of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) domiciled in Redeemer’s University (RUN), Ede Osun State has continued to reverberate with the successful exploit of the Centre in addressing a potential threat from a white powdery substance in a passport received by the Consular section at the United States Embassy in Abuja.
The echo of this research breakthrough, was sounded by the US Mission in Nigeria. In a letter of commendation dated 24 August, 2018, signed by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart W. Symington, the mission thanked the World Bank and National Universities Commission (NUC) for creating the platform for ACEGID to make the breakthroughs and for the impact its achievements was making generally in the ACE Programme.
The mission explained that the outcome of the Centres’s research activity led to the prompt and comprehensive screening as well as the extensive metagenomic analysis RUN’s laboratory provided. According to the statement by the Ambassador, the assistance of ACEGID helped to ensure the safety of the US Embassy’s personnel in Nigeria.
In his words, “my staff members report that your team was exceptionally responsive throughout the process, and that their quick work ensured we were able to resume mission activities well ahead of what we initially expected. Contrary to our expectations, we only experienced minimal disruption to Consular and other services the Embassy provide to Nigerian and American citizens alike,” he added.
The US Ambassador stressed that ACEGID played a pivotal role which resulted in shutting down of the Consular section of the Embassy and quarantine of all consular staff based on the Centre’s instruction. He noted with delight that ACEGID handled the whole situation from end to end and within a very short time.
Ambassador Symington acknowledged that the situation was contained by the RUN research team, even before the results of the analyses that were sent to the best US Government analytical institutions were returned. He particularly noted that the results of the analyses from various centres in the US only corroborated their findings, disclosing that this amazed the whole research community in the USA.
It would be recalled that ACEGID had successfully developed various intervention researches including a prototype for Next Generation Multiplex Pan-Lassa virus 10-minute Rapid Diagnostic test. This prototype had since been validated at the University’s clinical testing centre at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Edo State, Nigeria. The Centre has also identified four highly specific antibodies that would significantly inhibit the Lassa virus in-vitro, by targeting specific epitopes in the virus.
The Centre recorded a similar research feat when its laboratory was used in the diagnosis of the Ebola virus during the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic, which resulted in the rapid containment of the disease in Nigeria. Working with other researchers in the academia and industry, ACEGID developed the first Ebola Rapid Diagnostics test (REBOVTM). The test, a 15-minute Rapid Diagnostics test had received approval of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States of America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The deployment of this test was the breakthrough for the containment of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, among other research successes.
It would be recalled that ACE was instituted in 2013 by the Governments of Burkina Faso, Republic of Benin, Ghana, Cameroun, Togo, Senegal and Nigeria, with support from the World Bank.
It was designed to promote regional specialisation among participating universities within the fields of Agriculture, Health, as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The essence is to address particular common regional developmental challenges as well as strengthen the capacities of the participating universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.