The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba in Lagos, has unveiled a Covid-19 RNA Extraction Kit developed by researchers in the institute to support the fight against the pandemic.
Unveiling the Kit at a news conference, the Director-General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako, said that the development would help to boost the country’s efforts against the spread of the virus.
The Virus RNA Extraction Kit is used for rapid purification of viral RNA from biofluid samples such as serum, plasma and swab samples.
”Currently, we developed one of the very useful kits in the diagnosis of Covid-19, which is called the RNA Extraction Kit.
“The Kit is used all over the world and presently, it is very scarce; we don’t want Nigeria to run into any hitch in terms of Covid-19 diagnosis.
“Our researchers went back into the laboratory, and today we are presenting to the public, an RNA Extraction Kit developed through research by our researchers in NMR.
“This will bring down the cost and make it available to all laboratories that are involved in conducting Covid-19 testing in the country, ” Professor Salako said.
He stated that the Kit had been validated by the institute and the Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos.
”We want to appeal to Nigerians, scientists and our leaders that innovation like this should not be allowed to die.
“The Kit has been tested in NIMR, because we are a World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised laboratory to test Kit and the Centre for Zoonotic at the University of Lagos, College of Medicine.
“We already have two validation report on this development, and we want to appeal that this Kit should be approved by the Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for use.
”We are also available to allow them to reproduce exactly what we have done, and this is the only way we can make science to move forward,” he explained.
The Director-General noted that the institute had also made other contributions in the fight against the pandemic.
“Ever since the first case was recorded, we have been involved in several activities in relation to Coronavirus response in Nigeria.
“We sequence the first case of the virus in the country in conjunction with LUTH, College of Medicine; Redeemers University; Africa Excellence Laboratory and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to produce research reports on the sequence.
”We have worked under the Ministry of Health, working with NCDC, Lagos State Government and LUTH, and we are currently working with the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta and other institutions.
“All this activities are in line to conduct research into new drugs,” he said.
Also, Dr Muinat Fowora of the Department of Molecular and Biotech in NIMR, who carried out the research work, said that the global shortage prompted the zeal to develop the Kit.
Dr Fowora said the research work, which gulped over N2.5 million would help to scale up Covid-19 testing in the country and reduce the cost.
“Sometime around April, there was a report of global shortage of RNA Extraction Kit; so, we already started working on it because we have the DNA version of it.
”Major things you do during pandemic is to ensure a primary prevention and the second thing is a rapid response to identify carriers of the diseases by carrying out test.
“This will go a long way to scale up testing in the country,” Dr Fowora said.
Also, Dr Olumuyiwa Salu, from the Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, said that some badges of the Kit was evaluated at the centre.
”We receive a badge of the Kit few days ago, and we evaluated it at our end; we extracted RNA from some set of samples using the standard Qiagen and we also use Bio-tek and compared with that of NIMR Kit.
“The three extraction Kits and compared very well in terms of quantification of the RNA that was extracted…We went further to do detection of Covid-19 from the particular samples that were extracted, and all were positive using qiagen and bio-tek gave a positive with NIMR Kit and the negative came out negative.
“This is a preliminary reports from our end; when we are through with all the evaluations, we will send an official report to NIMR,” he said.