Makerere University is carrying out DNA research with the ultimate goal of discovering a new drug or vaccine.
By Innocent Anguyo
After recognizing that drug resistance is a major obstacle in controlling Tuberculosis (TB), Makerere University is carrying out DNA research with the ultimate goal of discovering a new drug or vaccine for a mutated version of the disease.
The research aimed at discovering alternative whilst more effective treatment for TB is being conducted by scientists in the Makerere University department of Microbiology at the College of Health Sciences.
The scientists are led by Prof Moses Joloba and Dr David Kateete who received a PhD in Medicine yesterday, the first day of Makerere's three-day 65th graduation ceremony. The research into new treatment for TB is a continuation of the study Kateete undertook for his PhD thesis.
The research is funded by Makerere University, the National Institute for Health (USA), and the Joint Clinical Research Center.
In an interview with New Vision, Kateete said his team identified, isolated and studied the genes associated with the infectious agent which appear to provide resistance to drugs.
"We are also going to use a synthetic gene to inhibit the product of the natural gene of the TB germ. We are going manipulate the genes isolated to attempt to kill the TB germ," said Kateete. These procedures have been tested in animal cells. The next tests will involve mice and guinea pigs, before it is conducted on primates and humans.
Kateete research began in 2009 and expects the final TB treatment to go on trial in about five years. In Uganda, about 540 cases of drug resistance TB were registered in 2013. Uganda records about 25,000 new cases of TB annually.
Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu lauded the College of Health Sciences for engaging in ground breaking research on priority health challenges including development of Ebola diagnostics and vaccines.
Ddumba said it is such research efforts that ensure that Makerere is ranked among the top five universities in Africa, in terms of research output and publication.
The College of health Sciences, Ddumba revealed was home to the top academic publishers for the period 2008-2014.
He identified publishers as; Prof David Sserwadda (199 publications), Prof Nelson Ssewankambo (141 publications), Prof Fred Wabwire-Mangheni (117 publications) and Prof Harriet Mayanja-Kizza (104 publications).
Makerere Chancellor Prof Mondo Kagonyera applauded the staff and students of the institution for continuing to come up with cutting-edge research and innovations for transformation of communities.
He also thanked the government for accepting taking over the entire wage bill of the university effective next financial year, saying the move will help the institution to better manage its finances.
Yesterday, students from six colleges were awarded diplomas, degrees and PhDs. These included- College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; College of Health Sciences; Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity; College of Natural Sciences and College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology.
Makerere this week graduates13,776 students. Of these, 66 students receive Doctorates.
The best student in the science disciplines is Rodney Adriko of Bachelor of Information Technology who attained a CGPA of 4.88 out of a maximum 5.0. Luke Sewante of Bachelor of Leadership and Governance, having garnered a CGPA of 4.81 is the best student in humanities.
At yesterday's graduation ceremony, there was shortage of seats for the parents of graudands, forcing several of the former to sit on the ground.
Makerere to develop TB treatment