UKZN Biochemistry PhD Graduate Continues Medicinal Plant Research in Nigeria
Nigerian born Dr Aminu Mohammed was awarded his PhD in Biochemistry for his thesis which examined antioxidative and antidiabetic effects of some African medicinal plants in order to discover novel anti-diabetic compounds, which may be more effective with fewer side effects compared to conventional drugs. Mohammed’s PhD topic was influenced by the increasing prevalence of diabetes worldwide, and the undesirable side effects being experienced by many patients currently on available synthetic drugs.
‘I wanted to search for novel molecules from natural plant-based remedies, since fewer side effects have been reported with the use of plants in the treatment of different diseases,’ said Mohammed.
‘Additionally, there is widespread interest from the pharmaceutical industry towards this area of research as plants contain an undiscovered wealth of potentially useful bioactive compounds for diabetes control, with relatively less adverse effects,’ he said.
The research undertaken involved various in vitro and in vivo experiments to demonstrate the anti-diabetic activity of selected indigenous African medicinal plants as well as their mechanisms of action.
‘In addition, the research work involved the challenging task of bio-assay guided isolation of the pure active compounds and the interpretation of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data,’ said Mohammed.
Mohammed is grateful to his supervisor Professor Shahidul Islam, who he says constantly motivated and supported him during his studies.
Among Mohammed’s achievements during his studies was the publication of five articles in ISI-rated journals. Another eight articles are in various stages of preparation for publishing..
Mohammed has presented his research results at two international conferences in Jordan and Canada. At the World Diabetes Congress in Canada he was awarded a prestigious travel grant from the International Diabetes Federation.
Mohammed has now resumed his work as a lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria. ‘My PhD studies will surely contribute to the advancement of my career as I can now actively supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students working in similar research areas.’