Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, Professor Lucy Ugbado, has disclosed that the agency is presently carrying out a lot of research on the cure for Sickle Cell Anaemia, SCA.
Ugbado, who disclosed this at the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Forum in Abuja, said the agency is carrying out research with the private sector and Nigerian experts in the Diaspora.
“Sickle cell anaemia is a disease of the black people and we do know that if we do not pay attention to it the outside world will not do it for us. So, we have formed a network of experts in Nigeria and Nigerians in the Diaspora who are working in this area.
“We have done a work plan and are collaborating and working together to ensure that we make progress and get to a point where we can proffer solution to this genetic disorder.’’
On science, technology and innovation, she said the sector is a capital intensive one which requires the involvement of the organised private sector to make a head way.
“Research and development activities are capital intensive and the government alone cannot achieve the desired result, so all hands must be on deck. We have reached out to them, they have assisted in the organisation of workshops, but that is not enough.
“We need more of their support because the private sector rose up to the challenge during the Ebola outbreak, especially Dangote Group. We need more of that. We are currently speaking with Danjuma Foundation to see if they can assist us and the discussion looks promising,’’ she said.
According to her, funding science and technology is not cheap as it requires serious and consistent commitment of funds because unlike other areas, things cannot be managed in research.
“The private sector is profit oriented and will be committed to making their money work for them, so their participation in the sector will propel its development,’’ she said.
Ugbado commended the federal government for assisting the agency with funds, adding that it has not had it so good “which means we are making progress, but a lot still needs to be done’’.
“We have a lot of programmes in place to ensure that Nigerians benefit from biotechnology and these are in the areas of agriculture, medical, environment and genomics. These sectors are critical to the development of biotechnology in Nigeria,’’ she said.
The chief executive appealed to the organised private sector to invest in these areas.
She noted that doing so would serve the dual purpose of making profit and and helping to bring succour to many African families that have been ravaged by this disorder.
It would be recalled that the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the just concluded sixth International Symposium on Sickle Cell Disease in Kampala, Uganda, disclosed to the world that Sickle Cell Disease, SCD, is preventable.
Ehanire had told the gathering that the Nigerian government had developed and patented a potent SCD management drug, NIPRISAN. It is a chemotherapeutic agent which stimulates healthy production of foetal haemoglobin to counteract the sickling process.
NIPRISAN has been clinically tried and licensed for commercial production. The minister said despite risks and side effects of bone marrow transplant surgery, the feat had been performed in some tertiary health facilities.

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