Instrumental Access 2021
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & TechnologyDepartment of Pharmaceutics
Producing more affordable medicines in Ghana
Second-year pharmacy students compounding medicine in the Dispensing Lab at KNUST
Pharmacy and Herbal Medicine Students on health outreach program in a rural community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana
A section of the KNUST Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Building
Meet our Awardee
The Department of Pharmaceutics is a core department in the Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). The Faculty has been Ghana’s premier and largest pharmacist training institution since 1953.
As the only Department of Pharmaceutics in Ghana that runs postgraduate programs, it is the main pipeline for filling careers in pharmaceutical research and manufacturing.
KNUST has four Instrumental Access awardees in addition to the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry; the Department of Food Science & Technology; and the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology.
Research AreasThe department’s research interests include antimicrobial resistance, food and drug safety, antimalarials, non-communicable diseases, water quality, natural products chemistry, and drug delivery excipients.
With this equipment, our research path can focus on delivering a social impact. Better facilities will position us to attract more funding and external collaborators and to keep building our capacity to one of the best research departments in the country and beyond."
Exploiting Cassava’s Potential: Yaa Asantewaa Osei, PhD
Known primarily as a source of food across West Africa, cassava is a starchy staple crop whose many uses are still being discovered today. Like maize, cassava has even been used as a raw material for the production of ethanol fuels.
But what if cassava starch could be used to formulate more affordable drugs in Ghana?
Yaa Asantewaa Osei, PhD, lecturer in the Department of Pharmaceutics at KNUST, sees potential for cassava to be utilized as a raw material in pharmaceutical production.
Currently, Dr. Osei says, Ghana imports almost all of the ingredients that pharmaceutical manufacturers use to produce their medicines, including starches that act as excipients—the inactive media for drug delivery.
"Starch is one of the most common excipients imported into the country by the tons," she says. "If we can produce a pharmaceutical-grade starch from local plants, it will go a long way to reduce the country's spending to import starch and reduce drug prices for patients throughout the country."
At present, Dr. Osei and her colleagues are investigating cassava varieties with high starch yields and modifying the starches to be more suitable for pharmaceutical uses.
Her goal is to determine which starches can be introduced into the manufacturing process and in turn, encourage Ghanaian farmers to produce more of these varieties.
"Our project seeks to cause the nation to cultivate hectares of cassava for the purpose of its starch,” she says. "Cassava is a food crop in the nation currently, but its potential pharmaceutical use can increase its production and create jobs for the farmers and for those who will enter into pharmaceutical starch processing. The economic gains could be very high for the nation.”
If locally-grown crops can be utilized by the pharmaceutical industry, it offers an economic win-win: farmers have a market for their cassava, and pharmaceutical manufacturers have a less expensive, readily available local alternative to imported starch. In the long term, this could reduce the cost of medicines produced in-country.
With equipment from Instrumental Access, Dr. Osei and colleagues can push this project forward, generating more data and training students.
"With this equipment, our research path can focus on delivering a social impact," she says. "Better facilities will position us to attract more funding and external collaborators, and to keep building our capacity to one of the best research departments in the country and beyond."
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About the DepartmentLocation: Kumasi, Ghana
Year Established: 1953
Students Impacted Annually: 1,036
Currently most of our equipment is broken down beyond repair. The few that are functioning are also obsolete, having been brought to the Department at its inception in 1953 or thereabout. Instrumental Access is the best solution to address these urgent needs."
Why Instrumental Access?
Student enrollment in the Department of Pharmaceutics at KNUST has soared in recent years, but funding for lab renovations and equipment acquisition has not kept the same pace.
Instrumental Access equipment will allow the department to train more students for pharmaceutical careers in Ghana, where the health sector is still drastically underserved. The equipment will also give researchers the capacity to test local herbal treatments for efficacy and safety, opening new avenues for drug discovery.
Shipment StatusArrived on campus December 2021
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.