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Could Zmapp be the cure for Ebola?

11 August 2014, 19:35 Peregrino Brimah

Necessity is the mother of invention. Today we have twitter campaigns, #GiveAfricaZmapp and #GiveThemExperimentalDrugs. As meaningful as these begging campaigns are, they must not be our only hope at addressing the Ebola plague.

#AfricanCure is directed to the presidents of African nations. Nigeria, the largest and one of the most naturally capable, endowed nations – with resource, wealth and people – is particularly pressed. We can develop an African cure in months. The US insists they will not help us till two years are passed. Let’s accept they have their protocols for manufacture and commercialization of their stuff. We cannot press them. They only test their drugs on our healthy kids, not our dying. They did not test the drug on Sheikh Khan, but did on their citizens for obvious reasons. It is their prerogative. We must define ours too.

Also read: 'Ebola outbreak a national emergency'

African leaders must no longer be allowed to dance and have launch ceremonies when they build roads and repair trains; social services of 1950. It is time we press our leaders to meet up with 2014 demands of life. Necessity is the mother of invention; we must take advantage of our crises to develop our solutions. Iran today is highly developed due to the challenges of decades of cruel sanctions. World wars led to the development and advancement of technologies like the GPS we use today. Indeed in our very own Nigeria, the challenge of the Biafra war saw the East spin out amazing military machines and the seeking solutions in dire times is not unrelated to the advanced productivity of that region today.

Zmapp is not the most complex technological remedy. In fact, this is Bio 101. Recovering and cloning antibodies is the oldest trick in the book for developing immunization to diseases. The Federal Government of Nigeria, FGN is challenged to sit-up and first, collaborate with its Liberian partner. Zmapp serum samples were obtained from a certain African kid who developed antibodies that defeated his Ebola infection. Zmapp antibodies are an African copyright property. The FGN must seek out candidates who have overcome Ebola from whom antibody-laden serum will be harvested. This involves responsibility and cooperation.

Also read: 'Bitter kola cannot cure Ebola'

Next, the antibodies will be identified in the serum sample by proteomics or other methods, analyzed through peptide digestion and mass spectrometry. Once the monoclonal antibodies are properly identified, these will be purified and cloned for real-time testing on our dying brother and sisters.

As a trained physician and molecular biologist, I submit that this process is not complicated and very feasible to achieve within months if the Nigerian administration is serious. We expect something to be done. It is passed time for African cures to African problems.

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