PROJECT DETAIL: Phytomedicine for tuberculosis

Following are the details of the project:

Tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis through the air droplet nuclei. It usually infects the lungs and may spread to other parts of the body. Tuberculosis remains a leading cause of death in the world and it has been plaguing humankind for thousands of years. About one quarter of the world population is infected and it kills an average of 1.9 million people yearly. The advent of HIV had geometrically increased the severity of infection, with patients being co-infected with HIV. About 80% of individuals diagnosed with the disease every year live in the 22 most populous countries, with Nigeria ranking 4th of the 22 high burden tuberculosis countries and has the highest new cases of TB in Africa. In 2006 Tuberculosis was declared a national emergency in Nigeria.

The conventional drugs for the treatment of Tuberculosis have been in use for over five decades and are now compromised and there are no newer drugs in the market. Their inconsistent and indiscriminant use have resulted in the development of multidrug- resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) leading to frequent treatment failures across the globe. Many of these drugs also have serious toxic side effects.

In Nigeria, large percentage of the population particularly in the rural areas, depend on the traditional medicine for their primary health care. Plants have contributed significantly as starting points for the development of modern drugs therefore; they represent potential sources of new drugs acting through novel mechanisms, in the search for new, more potent and safe anti-tuberculosis agents.

In an effort to develop new drugs for TB, the Council developed phyto-medicine for the treatment of tuberculosis from leaves of three local plants namely; Pavetta crassipes, Landolphia oweriensis and Anogeissus leocarpus. In addition the project has provided a lead to alternative supplementary sources of raw materials for anti-tuberculosis drugs. Efforts are on- going to patent and commercialise the product, which has the potentials to reduce importation of TB drugs in the country.