By SIMON EBEGBULEM, Benin City
AS expected, it was a joyous news on Tuesday when the Dean, School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prof. Isaiah Ibeh, announced the development of a new drug that can possibly cure HIV and AIDS. However, the joy was short-lived after the claim became controversial.
Ibeh disclosed that the herbal drug had undergone “series of successful tests” and had been positive. According to him, “We are at the threshold of making history, in the sense that we seem to have with us something that will permanently take care of what, over time, seemed to have defied all solutions.
“We are talking about the latest discovery of an oral drug made from plants extraction in Nigeria for the possible cure of the pandemic HIV and AIDS virus”. He disclosed that research on the project started in 2010 and culminated in the development of “Deconcotion X (DX)–Liquid or Bioclean 11 for the cure of HIV and AIDS”.
“The existing retroviral drugs are intervention drugs for the management of AIDS but our new discovery is a possible cure. We have tried to look at the product first; its toxicological analysis and discovered that it has a large safety margin. This means that if animals or human beings are exposed to it, they will not suffer any serious harm at all from the exposure.
It also helped us to know the quantity we can conveniently give to animals and will feel secure that nothing untoward will happen. We have also done the bacteriological analysis on it, after which we looked at its effect on the virus and the result was quite revealing and refreshing.”
Ibeh said that the drug had been exposed to series of medical examination both in Nigeria and in the USA, adding that the drug had performed well on patients with the HIV virus and had shown evidence of total restoration of damaged tissues. The Dean’s words: “The result showed an increase in the body weight of the individual administered with DX. The body weight was statistically significant when compared with the control group”.
He pointed out that further tests were being conducted to determine at what point will a patient become negative after being administered the drug, saying: “This verification is necessary because it is what is used to measure whether infection is still there or not.
So we need to know the siro-convention time. But preliminary results showed that of the five latest patients orally administered with the drugs, our findings is that up to seven months , three of them were siro negative while two were sill faintly positive.” He therefore solicited the support of the Federal Government with a view to sustaining the research which he described as very successful.
However, controversy started 24 hours later, when the Provost, College of Medical Sciences, Prof. Vincent Iyawe, distanced the authorities of UNIBEN from the alleged breakthrough announced by Ibeh, saying it had not been verified.
The disagreement between the duo on the issue is a throw-back to the days of Dr Agbalaka of an Abuja hospital who claimed he had found cure for the HIV/AIDS; that was in 2008. Iyawe, who spoke to journalists on the issue, said UNIBEN was unaware of the breakthrough, and would therefore not substantiate it until procedures for verifying it was concluded.
The provost pointed out that there are procedures to be observed in such a situation before the school will allow its name to be associated with it. According to him, “The school will like to take credit for a breakthrough, but the school cannot align with the breakthrough, because the university college was not consulted; the university was not consulted. He (Ibeh) didn’t carry anybody along.
There are protocols and procedures, stage by stage procedures. We are going to take it to the clinical lab, we are going to take it the Federal Ministry of Health, because they have a procedure there, we’ll probably take it to NAFDAC, because it is a unit or department of the Ministry, we’ll take it for clinical trial, and many things we’ll have to do before we can announce that we discovered something; in fact, we actually have to take it to the World Health Organization; so these are the things we are discussing”.
Asked whether Ibeh was unaware of such procedure before going public with the news of his breakthrough, Iyawe said, “I don’t know, he can answer that question, but we are not granting a press interview. I said that after we have finished we can still call in (press) you people. All we are doing is to protect him.”
The provost, however, expressed uncertainty over time duration it could take the UNIBEN authorities to ascertain the veracity of Ibeh’s claim, saying, “It depends on what we are dealing with; it depends on the virus or bacteria you are dealing with; it can be years, it’s not something you expect an answer in two weeks or one month’s time. Don’t drag me into this”.
Ibeh later came up with a statement saying he was misrepresented on his HIV/AIDS cure claim. UNIBEN, also through a statement by its spokesman, Harrison Oransanye, maintained that the institution was unaware of the Dean’s claim and said the authorities will look at the matter very critically.
Ibeh’s release stated, “My attention has been drawn to publications in our national dailies of January 9, with reference to our HIV/AIDS research findings. I wish to state clearly that the said publications were a misrepresentation of what actually transpired.
The true position is that some observations of our research are preliminary and the research is still on-going. I am sorry for the embarrassment this has caused the University of Benin and professional colleagues, realizing that there are procedures of reporting such scientific results.”
The university, in its statement, expressed embarrassment over the development.
It read, “Authorities of the University of Benin wish to dissociate itself from the claim of the development of a drug that could cure HIV and AIDS by the Dean, School of Basic Medical Sciences of the University, Professor Isaiah Ibeh, as reported in the Internet and some national dailies of 9th January, 2013.
As a reputable institution, well rooted in the promotion of research and development, the university considers the publicized claim an embarrassment, bearing in mind that there are laid down procedures for disseminating academic breakthroughs. Sadly, the procedure did not follow the laid down protocol in this circumstance.
For the avoidance of doubt, the said claim by Professor Ibeh is a research exercise which is still in its infancy stage and therefore ongoing.” Sunday Vanguard learn that the UNIBEN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Osayuki Oshodin, was not happy with the development because of the seeming negative image it created for the university which has enjoyed tremendous development and peaceful learning environment since he resumed office three years ago. It was learnt that Oshodin called for probe into the matter and warned against any action capable of tarnishing the image of the university.