By Kemi Akintokun
Lagos, Oct. 6, 2020 The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) launched the first Blood Genetic and Transfusion Research in the country and Smart Centre at the institute in Yaba, Lagos.
The Director General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said at the launch on Tuesday that the research, which was in collaboration with Lifebank, was to improve safe blood transfusion in the country.
Salako said that the availability of blood in the country could not be described as optimal, saying that more effort was required to get the country to that level.
He added that “we are here in NIMR to witness the launch of a new research, which is on Blood Genetic and Transfusion, as well as the opening of the Smart Centre sponsored by Lifebank.
“Presently, screening is done for only a few specific pathogenic micro-organisms that are considered to pose the most threat to blood safety.
“However, this screening test undermine potential danger to blood safety by several other pathogens that are uncommon and transmitted only at certain times in the year or certain areas of the country.
“The primary aim of this research is to evaluate the usability, utility and effectiveness of the Smart Bag technology in monitoring donors’ blood used for transfusion.”
He explained that it was the first of its kind in Nigeria, noting that the innovative and technological advancement centre was to bring about a paradigm shift by translating research products into new diagnostic tools.
He assured Nigerians that in the coming years, innovation from the Blood Genetic and Transfusion Research would impact greatly and transform blood transfusion in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.
He commended Lifebank for supporting the project and for working with the institute “to break new grounds in health-related issues in the country. ”
The director general said the institute was presently working out modalities with the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, Federal Orthopedic Hospital and the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital on the project.
Prof. Oliver Ezechi, who made a presentation on Reproductive and Transfusion Medicine, said that blood transfusion played a significant role in all stages of reproductive process.
Ezechi, who is a Chief Research Fellow at NIMR and a Professor of Gynaecology, noted that research in transfusion medicine must go into areas where diseases would be quickly identified.
He said “there is diversity in blood transfusion and this diversity is present at all levels.
“The role of blood transfusion in reproductive process varies from diagnostic approach to the choice of the most complex therapy.”
Dr Samuel Amoo, a Senior Research Fellow who would lead the NIMR research, said that the country was far behind in Transfusion Medicine.
Amoo stressed the need for more research work to explore the field to improve on the benefits and to blood transfusion practice in the country.
He explained that the research work would be a five-year plan that would cost N200 million from both private and public collaboration.
He said “this initiative was created when Lifebank approached NIMR with their Smart Bag product that could monitor the efficacy and safety of transfused blood.
“As researchers, we decided to look at what is obtainable outside the country and how this can improve our technology and process here.
“So, this brings to light a cascade of research questions that the team cannot answer alone and that is why we are bringing more expertise on board,” he said.