The Nigerian Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has called for an urgent upgrade of its laboratory to be able to produce necessary drugs to cope with the threat being posed by the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
NIPRD Director-General, Professor Karniyu Gamaliel, who made the call in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, explained that the institution required what he called “P4” laboratory to complement what they have in stock to be able to meet the current challenges triggered by the EVD.
A P4 lab is a high containment laboratory facility that can safely handle deadly pathogens such as the smallpox and Ebola viruses.
Gamaliel said the laboratory is needed urgently to enable the agency to fast-track research into drugs that could be used as palliative for the EVD.
He remarked that although the agency currently has five departments with fully equipped laboratories, it should operate maximally with 18 or 20 specialised laboratories.
“Our laboratories need a little upgrading with facilities like the P4 bio-safety cabinet which will make the laboratory very competent and very useful, and we insist that the situation is an emergency given the position of Abuja as a centrally-placed city.
“Ebola is a deadly pathogen and the facilities we have need to be upgraded. I went round the facilities yesterday and we don’t have the P4 facility but we have a structured laboratory suitable for handling the virus and the various studies that are relevant,” he said.
Gamaliel boasted however that the institution had the capacity to identify the virus in the infected persons.
“There are better versions coming in as we speak. We can do with up scaling of such machines that would be required and sample handling machines also which takes samples and stored in a safe way.
“I think we are the only laboratory that can do all those things and also monitor those activities on a door-to-door basis.
“So I think we have a role in analysing the activities of the drugs and the progression of the infection in people already infected so that preventive measures can be carried out appropriately,” Gamaliel said. [Vanguard]