Workshop on Pharmacogenetics
The Centre organized a workshop themed “Role of Pharmacogenetics in Drug Development” which aimed at exposing African drug researchers to the realities and methodology of studying genetically mediated variations in the metabolism of drugs. This is of particular relevance to CDDDP’s vision and mission, because it has been shown that the drug metabolism and consequently the efficacy of drugs differ from race to race, due to differences in genetic makeup. If Africa is to make her own drugs, an element of pharmacogenetics must be put in the mix. It was against this backdrop that CDDDP in collaboration with the African Institute of Biomedical Science & Technology (AiBST) Harare, Zimbabwe organized a one-week hands-on workshop, held from Monday 23 through Thursday 26 March, 2015 at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
The Workshop drew participants from several institutions ranging from academic to pharmaceutical industries: (University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, Olabisi Onabanjo University), the University College Hospital (UCH), the University Health Service Unit (Jaja) and the Nigerian Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development (NIPRD), Abuja.
The opening ceremony which was graced by the Vice Chancellor as well as several prominent dignitaries both from within and outside the University.
The workshop was highly engaging with didactic sessions as well as laboratory-based hands-on sessions. Topics treated include but were not limited to: History of Pharmacogenetics globally and in Africa – from clinical observations to research laboratories and now to clinical practice; Introduction to terminology, technology and methodology in Pharmacogenetics; Fundamentals of polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment length polymorphism in genotype analysis; Bio-banking of samples for genetic studies; Ethics of Genetic research; Fundamentals of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), drug and metabolite analysis and HPLC method validation; Overview of HPLC method validation. Others were Current projects and future plans for Pharmacogenetics research in Nigeria; Africa as a Centre point in drug development: H3Africa Initiative as a platform; Role of cytochrome P450 enzymes in herbal-drug interactions. Laboratory sessions focused on DNA extraction from whole blood to genotyping for CYP2B6, the enzyme responsible for metabolism of Efavirenz. This was complemented with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of human plasma sample for degree of metabolism of Efavirenz. The goal was to show how variation in metabolism affects therapeutic outcomes across diverse population, thus stressing the need for pharmacogenetics inclusion in drug therapy.
At the close of the workshop, there was an interactive session on the way forward for African scientists building capacity in biomedical research. Several issues were raised with respect to uneven challenges faced by upcoming researchers in Africa as compared to their counterparts in developed economies and the inherent temptation to want to trade our rights for opportunities to get trained overseas.
To all of the matters raised, participants emphasized the need for Africans to look within and strengthen South-South research relationships. We do not have to start big, but let’s begin with whatever facilities we can find around us.
Africa is a continent rich in genomic data due to our pronounced diversities. Clinical trials, drug discovery and development process should be investigated in our populations for better treatment outcomes rather than we awaiting finished products from Western communities.
We as African scientists should begin to intensely gather genomic data via raising a vibrant biobank where the variants peculiar to African populations can be identified. This requires collaborative efforts among African scientists from all over the continent. Acquisition of such data is preliminary towards further downstream benefits of genomic medicine.
The participants took a step forward by grouping themselves into four major research areas where they plan to collaborate on. These areas are:
• Population genomic diversity in Africa and Bio-banking
• Pharmacogenetics of breast cancer
• Pharmacovigilance and Pharmacogenetics Integration
• Computational modeling in drug discovery
Names and contacts were exchanged with a promise to keep communication lines open. These groups will also be working together with CDDDP since the Centre possesses equipment, expertise as well as a platform for fostering evidence-based researches.
There were calls for continuity of similarly themed workshops as well as more time to be allocated for it. Some even voted for subsequent workshops to be residential, so that time isn’t a constraint to learning and getting acquainted with cutting-edge science.
There was a final session for appreciation of participants, our international guests and resource persons, the organizing committee and then to the Director, Professor C.P. Babalola.