After 24 Years, UNIJOS Discovers Anti-Snake Venom Vaccine

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After 24 years of intensive research, the African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research Development (ACEPRD) team in the University of Jos, UNIJOS, has discovered anti-snake venom vaccine known as COVIP-Plus.

The Vice-Chancellor of University of Jos, Professor Sebastian Maimako represented by the Director of the Research Centre, Professor John Aguiyi announced the breakthrough on Tuesday at the New Senate Chamber at the Naraguta Campus (Permanent Site) in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

Maimako noted, “An essential approach to tackling snakebite is to prevent or neutralise snake venom on its arrival at human and animal tissue or blood and it requires a prophylactic agent or a vaccine.”

According to him, “At present, such a vaccine against snakebite venom does not exist; COVIP-Plus is an anti-venom vaccine. It is derived from the seed of a plant traditionally used by the Rukuba (Bacche people of Bassa in Plateau State, Nigeria) to prevent snakebite envenoming without any anecdotally reported adverse effects.

“The vaccine which has already been tested on animals is to undergo the human test in three different phases in meeting with the standard of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in making the product a globally certified and accepted vaccine in the world though capitally extensive.”

He expressed worry on how to make the breakthrough a reality, saying, “I am also worried with the capital-intensiveness in conducting clinical trials of drugs, vaccines and devices. I am made to understand by the Researcher that N200 million is required for the phase-one clinical trials. The phase-two clinical trials will also require close to N400 million and the phase-three will require much more.”