Examining the merits of Prof. Ezeibe’s HIV cure claim

NAN: In the 80s and 90s, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes the Acquired Immune Deficiency Virus (AIDS) threatened to depopulate the world.
The challenge, expectedly, triggered a research race among scholars and institutions world over with a view to finding a cure or vaccine.
Nonetheless, in 2006, development of anti-retroviral drug gave the world some reprieve as acquiring the virus ceased to result in death with proper treatment.
In Nigeria, a couple of scholars joined the efforts to develop a cure for the virus infection and ever since, a couple of them have laid claims to finding a solution.
Prominent among Nigerian scholars who had laid claims to developing a cure for HIV and AIDS was Prof. Jeremiah Abalaka whose claim was dismissed by National Drug and Food Control Agency (NAFDAC).
Recently, Prof. Francis Otunta, the Vice-Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, also announced the discovery of a new drug for the treatment and cure of HIV and AIDS.
Like other previous claimants, Otunta said that the finding followed years of scientific research by the institution.
He said that the breakthrough was made by Prof. Maduike Ezeibe, a researcher in the university.
The vice-chancellor said that Ezeibe had presented the drug to the university management and appropriate authorities where he explained the processes he went through to ascertain his claim.
He also said that Ezeibe had equally presented the drug to his colleagues in the medical field and nobody had contradicted his finding.
“Prof. Ezeibe is a researcher in Veterinary Medicine and one may wonder how he discovered a drug to cure a human ailment,’’ he said.
Otunta said that the university was in the process of mass producing the drug for further clinical trials on persons living with HIV and AIDS in the country.
Ezeibe, who is a professor of Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Virology, said that the drug was produced with aluminum silicate and magnesium silicate.
The researcher said that the two minerals were already in use as medicines for the treatment of various animal and human diseases.
He said that 10 volunteers living with the virus were made to apply through their doctor to the vice-chancellor.
Ezeibe said that the volunteers were subjected to monthly tests for viral loads and CD4-lymphocyte counts.
“With the antiviral effects of the medicine, its ability to reach all cells (as nanoparticles) and the lymphocytes, there is no more hiding place (sanctuary) for HIV,’’ he said.
He said that the medicine had been used to potentiate Ampicilin, Chloroquine, Piperazine and Sulphadimidin, among others, and could be a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria, if approved by relevant authorities.
According to him, local and international pharmaceutical companies will find the product as a veritable raw material.
Ezeibe said that he presented the research findings to the World Virology Conference in Atlanta in 2015 and Antonio, Texas, in 2016.
Besides, he said that the results of the laboratory tests had been published in many international scientific journals, including the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research, among others.
He said that he was also about to sign a memorandum of understanding with a U.S.-based Scientific Research Publishing, publishers of World Journal of AIDS, for the publication of his book entitled: “How I came about the cure for HIV/AIDS.’’
Ezeibe, who said that the medicine was patented in August 2014 in Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to help him to secure international patency for the drug.
“If commercialised, the Medicinal Synthetic Aluminum-Magnesium Silicate would become an alternative to petroleum in Nigerian economy.’’ he said.
However, the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) was quick to refute Ezeibe’s claim.
A statement by the Director-General of the agency, Dr Sani Aliyu, said there was no basis for a claim to the cure of HIV and AIDS as described in the study presented by Ezeibe.
“The claim for a HIV and AIDS cure is not new. It is also not new to find a scientist using ambiguous scientific methods and practices to buttress this claim, and to find obscure journals increasingly prepared to publish these claims,’’ Aliyu said.
He noted that the facts of the study quoted by Ezeibe did not follow standard ethical protocols for clinical trials.
According to Aliyu, there is no evidence from the publication that the authors obtained ethical clearance from an appropriate body in Nigeria to conduct this study.
“There are long established, tried and tested routes for the discovery, development and validation of modern medicines before they can be registered and used for treatment in humans and animals,’’ he stated.
The NACA boss urged all academics to follow legal and scientifically acceptable methods in conducting their research and to avoid making premature claims that were capable of derailing the huge progress made in the last two decades on the war against HIV and AIDS.
Sharing similar sentiments, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said it had been established that the experiment carried out by Ezeibe was illegal.
The minister, nonetheless, said that the Federal Government was still waiting for the full report of the investigation it instituted on the professor’s recent claim that he had discovered a cure for HIV and AIDS.
“On the issue of HIV, we have yet to get the final report from the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research but what is clear is that those activities were carried out without a valid ethical approval.
“As you might be aware, nobody is allowed to carry out any experiment or research on human beings without an ethical approval.
“At the National Health Research Committee’s level, there is no evidence that this researcher sought and obtained ethical approval but at the appropriate time we will disclose the full report,’’ he said.
To further buttress the validity of Ezeibe’s finding, Prof. Iwe Ofo, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, said the stakeholders would take domestic due process.
Iwe, a professor of agriculture, explained that Ezeibe, who is a researcher at the same university, said the institution was moving toward the direction of taking the research findings to the appropriate agencies to harmonise the findings.
“Normally, a scientist will end up at the level of having his name inscribed on the sands of time, obtaining all the permissions that are expected.
“What Ezeibe is telling the world is that there is the possibility of using his knowledge to assist those that are having problems of HIV and AIDS,’’ he said.
But Mr Jude Iyamu, a public affairs analyst said that comments from NACA and some other quarters on the claim could be demoralising.
He said that in as much as ethical approval was important; it should not be allowed to override the validity of the finding.
“What the relevant agencies should focus on should be to ascertain through clinical trials if Ezeibe’s finding actually obliterates HIV; and then help him secure international patent.
“It will be a thing of honour if Nigerian was the one that found the cure for HIV which had defied researchers would over,’’ he said.
Perceptive observers, therefore, hold that while scientific process should be diligently followed in this regard, Ezeibe’s finding should not be treated with disdain, levity or wished away.(NANFeatures)

Examining the merits of Prof. Ezeibe’s HIV cure claim Examining the merits of Prof. Ezeibe’s HIV cure claim Reviewed by AkmnaijaTv on 23 March Rating: 5

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