Pharmaceutical research tends to focus on wealthier nations. As a result, diseases in undeveloped and impoverished nations often go untreated. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and onchocerciasis (African River Blindness) continue to afflict 1.4 billion people around the world.
A year ago, non-profit BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) placed two pharmaceutical scientists from pharmaceutical giant Merck in Cameroon, Ghana and Kenya for several months to share their expertise. The scientists were frustrated by a lack of proper equipment.
This year, in addition to loaning more scientists, Merck also donated six gently used Agilent high-performance liquid chromatography systems to BVGH to place at African research institutes. The first installation was at the University of Buea in Cameroon. When BVGH realized the HPLC was not complete, they turned to Agilent for help.
Agilent became an integral partner in the project, donating software licenses, consumables and spare parts. Agilent technicians also assisted the Merck scientists via videoconference in setting up the HPLC and its ChemStation software.
Professor Fidelis Cho-Ngwa and his colleagues in Buea are using the Agilent system to identify biologically active compounds in indigenous plants and other natural sources. They hope to develop better natural product medicines to combat these devastating diseases.
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