Mamora commissions NIMR-MTN Foundation sponsored Oligo- Synthesis Laboratory

HMSH Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora with Chairman MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adeluyi (OFR)
HMSH Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora with Chairman MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adeluyi (OFR)

The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has commissioned an Oligo-Synthesis Laboratory donated by the MTN Foundation to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba Lagos State, to aid prompt diagnosis of COVID-19 virus and other diseases.

Dr. Mamora revealed that the pandemic is an epic battle that can only be won through collaborative efforts like the MTN and NIMR Oligo-Synthesis Laboratory project. This he said is a testimony of government desire not to be left behind in the global resolve to confront the situation at the hand which is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 virus is unrelenting in its bid to decimate the human race, hence its capacity to mutate into different variants in circulation at the moment. “This is a survival tactics of the dreaded virus, we do know that the Delta variant and many other variants of interest have been sequenced by our research academic and disease control agencies. Monitoring the sequence formation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and has been of immense help in improving diagnosis, preparing for vaccine escape mutants that leads to what we call breakthrough infections making informed public health decisions”.

According to the Minister, the operationalization of this laboratory will position the country to rapidly respond to outbreaks, support the design and production of local kits and build our capacity in other downstream application of Oligonucleotide in the area of Gene-Synthesis therapeutic DNA and possibly someday DNA and RNA vaccines.

“I am very proud to say that NIMR is surpassing our expectations as the foremost medical research facility in West Africa, many thanks to the MTN foundation for partnering with them in bringing the Oligo-Synthesis project to fusion”. Dr. Mamora expressed gratitude to the Foundation for touching base in healthcare research as well as their contribution in other sectors geared towards improving the lives of Nigerians.

Speaking further, he disclosed that the Federal Government will increase investments into research and healthcare developments as part of efforts to boost the health sector. He assured the Foundation that government will do everything to support great networks such as this to promote equity, quality and better access to healthcare as a priority in the framework of Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians.

The Oligo-Synthesis Laboratory donated by MTN Foundation
The Oligo-Synthesis Laboratory donated by MTN Foundation

Earlier, Director General of NIMR Prof. Babatunde Salako revealed that the institution was the first to sequence the Nigerian index case in collaboration with the centre for Zoonosis and Human Genetics, College of Medicine University of Lagos and the Lagos State Ministry of Health a feat that was recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO). ”It is our drive to further the scientific interventions and meet national public health needs, but we encountered challenges and bottle necks in procuring and importing molecular biology reagents, especially Oligonucleotide primers and probes in its efforts to contribute to control of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

These he said are key requirements in scientific intervention pipelines, required by all scientists and researchers in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology in the country. “We approached a number of private organizations in the country including the MTN Foundation, presented our challenges and requested specifically for the donation of Oligo-Synthesizer (the Oligomaker 48/6 Synthesizer and Accessories) to NIMR, to ease this major challenge”.

The Oligo-synthesizer machine which he said cost over a 100 million naira, is an equipment capable of making short synthetic copies of an organisms genetic material called Oligonucleotide primers and probes with applications in research and development, vaccines and drug development, nutrigenomics, local design and development of diagnostics and many more. “Equipment like this will put Nigeria researchers in the fore front of experimental vaccine, diagnostic and drug development. These advancements will help continue the ground breaking research that Nigeria needs to make our population healthier, cleaner and safer he stated”.

Chairman MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adeluyi (OFR) disclosed that the Foundation partnered with NIMR because of its resilience and motivation despite the challenges faced.  He informed that the Oligo-Synthesis machine is a cutting edge solution to be used to address COVID-19 challenges and other viruses. In its 16years of existence, the Foundation has been able to intervene with appreciable results in the areas of Health, Education, Economic empowerment as well as special area intervention which has led to spending as a foundation, 22.7 billion naira. “NIMR is going places, the moment you partner with MTN Foundation; it is the beginning of a new world of opportunities”.

Group Photograph with the HMSH Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora and Chairman MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adeluyi (OFR)
Group Photograph with the HMSH Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora and Chairman MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adeluyi (OFR)

Mrs Odunayo Sanyo, Executive Secretary of the Foundation said that the Foundation looks forward to creating the future that Nigeria desires. Partnering with NIMR was an opportunity and privilege to assist. NIMR she said was significant in the partnership because it is an umbrella body for many bodies; it is like a net covering the entire medical eco-system in Nigeria and West Africa. “The Oligo-Synthesis machine for us at MTN is creating an economy aside from the purpose of healthcare. “We are stimulating the economy, we expect that the value chain will come alive, we expect that the standard of education will move up because now students can do real research, it is no longer about theory. It takes us into the future even though we are starting it today we believe that the possibilities are endless”.

Blessing Efem
Signed by
Olusegun Adetola
(Head Media & Public Relations)