The Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), yesterday, disclosed that it has gained new understanding of why human beings are more vulnerable to infections by the new strain of COVID-19, known as N501Y SARS-CoV-2 mutant.
It said its Chemo-Genomics Research Institute, in collaboration with its Multi-System Hospital, made the latest scientific discovery, insisting that it was developing an indigenous herbal product to combat the new variant of COVID-19 to reduce its spread in Nigeria and Africa.
A statement issued by its Head, Public Relations, Tunde Olofintila, disclosed that the bio-medical scientists and Researchers led by Dr. Olaposi Omotuyi, explained that the new variant was 80 times more effective in binding to human cells, faster human-to-human transmission and more rapid progression of symptoms and death.
“The Bio-medical scientists and Researchers took advantage of the cutting-edge Bio-computing platform in the research institute to calculate and re-evaluate the interaction between SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein receptor-binding domain (RBD) and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 surface (ACE2) for the wild type in comparison with the new variant.
“One of the outstanding discoveries of the research efforts is the improved RBD binding with ACE2 following N501 mutation. The scientific breakthrough becomes more important during the second wave of COVID-19, which comes with more deaths and infection than the first wave,” the statement reads.
Omotuyi stated that the findings should, therefore, serve as a wake-up call for enforcement of COVID-19 protocols in all institutions, stressing that at the individual level, personal protection should be enforced always.
He said the last might not have been heard from the researchers, adding: “Watch out for Indigenous solution to COVID-19 in ABUAD.”
Olofintila said shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic last year, founder of ABUAD, Afe Babalola (SAN), challenged scientists in the university to engage in research and join other scientists in other parts of the world to find a lasting solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Concerned that the pandemic, which led the closure of all educational institutions and worship centres, partial lockdown in states of the country, Babalola invited scientists and challenged them to take advantage of the closure of schools to engage in research and come out with workable solutions to the scourge.
“Babalola noted that Nigerian academics often go to sleep after obtaining their PhDs when that should be the beginning of research, contribution to knowledge and service to humanity as it is done in other parts of the world,” he said.