Instrumental Access 2019:
University of Ghana
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
In Ghana, supporting the rollout of new graduate programs in pharmaceutical chemistry and improving standardization of medicines
Meet our Awardee
The School of Pharmacy was established a decade ago to meet an urgent national need for more trained pharmacists.
The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry is one of five departments in the School of Pharmacy, contributing significantly to the training of students in the Bachelor’s of Pharmacy program as well as the new Doctor of Pharmacy program.
The Department’s research is focused on proteomics, chemometrics, herbal product quality assurance and standardization, post-market quality assessments of medicines, drug discovery from natural products, malaria diagnostics, pharmacokinetics, antimicrobial resistance, and monitoring pharmaceutical waste in the environment.
Adequate equipment will provide a conducive environment for our staff to solve the key health-related challenges facing the people in Ghana and Africa as a whole."
Estimating Shelf Life for Herbal Medicines:
Dr. Lawrence Asamoah Adutwum
In Ghana, as in many other parts of the world, herbal medicines are widely available and used frequently to treat a range of ailments.
These herbal products can be safe and effective at the appropriate dose and potency. However, like pharmaceuticals, they don't remain stable forever. The active ingredients can deteriorate over time, becoming more or less or differently reactive and potentially even toxic to the patients who consume them.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, however, herbal products are largely unregulated.
Bad actors can and do offer counterfeit products. But even manufacturers with the best of intentions find it difficult to assess and regulate the potency of their products. There are few standards and protocols for them to follow.
Lawrence Asamoah Adutwum, PhD, a pharmaceutical chemist at the University of Ghana, is determined to eliminate some of the guesswork involved.
He is working on a new method to estimate the shelf life of herbal products. This is challenging because herbal products typically contain a variety of compounds, and the ingredients often work together to produce the desired effect.
While the shelf-life of a typical pharmaceutical product can be determined easily by monitoring the levels of a few active ingredients that break down in ways that are well-understood, with an herbal product, it’s hard to know where to start.
By combining spectroscopic techniques and machine learning, however, Dr. Adutwum believes that it will be possible to identify a chemical fingerprint for each herbal formulation, and also to detect variations from that fingerprint as the product changes over time.
When the method has been tested, Dr. Adutwum intends to discuss the outcomes with key stakeholders in herbal medicine manufacturing, consumption, and regulation.
He aims to improve public health through by helping consumers have access to quality herbal products.
"This will revolutionize the herbal product industry as manufacturers can establish their own setups to determine shelf life of their products," says Dr. Adutwum.
Equipment from Instrumental Access will support Dr. Adutwum’s efforts, as well as additional research and teaching in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.
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About Instrumental Access
To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.