CU Biochemist Discovers New Medicinal Compounds for Treating Diseases
Dr. Abiodun H. Adebayo is a natural product biochemist with keen interest in medicinal plants and how these plants can be used to improve the health and wellbeing of the common man. He is a researcher of note and a number of his works have been published in reputable international journals across the field of science.
During his just concluded post-doctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Microbiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, Dr. Adebayo discovered seven new compounds among others from a Nigerian plant.
According to him, he was able to isolate seven new compounds from Citrullus lanatus, popularly known as watermelon. Out of these seven, three of the compounds were of great potential, that is, they rapidly scavenge free radicals, and thus could serve as potential anti-oxidant drugs.
From that research work, it was discovered that two of the compounds that have these anti-oxidant properties, when their half-maximal effective concentration (EC50) values were compared with existing known compounds, i.e., vitamin C, these were found to be about three to five times higher than what ordinary vitamin C supplement has in potency.
Dr. Adebayo said the 8 months he spent at the laboratory in China shows these new compounds could actually be used as future potent anti-oxidants.
“The human body needs oxygen for vital cellular metabolism, this oxygen, in the process of being used by the body, is also converted to some toxic radicals, and these radicals can in turn injure the cells, tissues and cause lipid per-oxidation. What Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants do is to donate protons and quench the toxic nature of these radicals,” he stated.
In addition, Dr. Adebayo had engaged in previous research work, which aimed at finding out whether watermelon leaves could also protect the liver against any form of damage.
According to him, “What we did in the course of the study was to injure the liver of some experimental rats using carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), and commence treatment with extracts from the watermelon leaves, which were in turn administered to the rats at graded doses. The conclusion of that research endeavour showed that watermelon, in the nearest future, could be a liver protecting drug.
Another extended study carried out on Chrysophyllum albidum leaves (African star apple) revealed that it has liver protective properties.
The widely published researcher also investigated Ageratum conyzoides, popularly referred to as goat weed, where he was able to isolate anti-cancer properties from the plant and these have been in use till date.
However, he averred that what was discovered from those anti-cancer properties from goat weed might be open to further experimentation, if it could be introduced in the treatment of prostate cancer, since the initial test targeted at mostly breast cancer, lung cancer and liver cancer.
Dr. Adebayo’s research team has conducted another research on Anchomanes difformis, another medicinal plant that has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect.
He bemoaned Africa’s backwardness in research and attributed this to poor funding and lack of access to facilities and equipment that would enable groundbreaking research endeavours, as most African governments pay lip service to issues of quality research.
According to him, “Here at Covenant University, I and my research team have been so favoured. Recently, we got equipment grant worth twenty-five thousand US dollars ($25,000:00) from the Ministry of Science and Technology in China.
“The whole idea behind the grant is to enable us do almost all of what took me to China, here in Nigeria. This is what informed the setting up of the Phytochemistry Laboratory, which is almost at the completion stage. When this is completed, we will be able to start our phytochemistry experiment, which will enable us to isolate some of the active compounds that are found in plants, as these are the main compounds that actually make up the plant.
“Most of these plants contain thousands of secondary metabolites, thousands of active compounds known as phytochemicals and they have to be purified, tested (Bioactive guided fractionation), and these are what we will be doing in that laboratory when it is finally completed,” he added.
The widely published biochemist said his ultimate goal is to see that these products generated from the laboratory end up on the drug shelves across the world to better the lives of ordinary people. He noted that over 80% of the African populace use medicinal plants in the raw form and a number of them use them because they do not have access to better health care delivery system.
He said that his research team’s focus is ensuring that some of the ongoing work in the laboratories, that is, the active compounds discovered are converted into drugs at cheaper rates that would be accessible to the common man, who might need them to cure one disease or the other.
“However, it is an onerous task, because before these active compounds are purified, tested, go through clinical trials and get the approval of relevant bodies, it would take a minimum of 10 to 15 years, and we are already collaborating with relevant pharmaceutical industries in order to ensure that when we get to that bridge we cross it seamlessly,” he concluded.
Dr. Abiodun Adebayo has published over 26 different papers on the subject matter of medicinal plants and he recently published in the ‘International Journal of Pharmacology’ on the ability of Citrullus lanatus to reverse oxidative stress and haematological parameters in wistar rats.
Visit http://covenantuniversity.edu.ng/Profiles/ADEBAYO-ABIODUN#.VDztNFdZzMC for more publications from Dr. Adebayo Abiodun.