Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) is set to make significant strides in cancer research, as it will next year begin clinical trials on ovarian cancer in collaboration with the University of Miami and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Miami, the United States of America.
The Chief Medical Director for the teaching hospital, Prof. Ahmed Umdagas Hamidu, revealed this when he led experts from the foreign partner institutions on a courtesy call on the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Kabiru Bala, in Zaria on Tuesday (22nd August 2023).
According to a statement from the Public Affairs Directorate of Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Mathew Schlumbrencht and Dr. Sophia H.L. George from the University of Miami in the US were on the delegation to call on the Vice-Chancellor.
The collaborators from the partner institutions arrived at the hospital preparatory to the single-arm prospective, multi-study evaluating safety tolerability and metabolism of Niraparib as maintenance, following front-line treatment for ovarian cancer in women of African ancestry.
The ABUTH’s Chief Medical Director, Prof. Ahmed Umdagas Hamidu, told the Vice-Chancellor that the visit of the collaborators to the hospital was to evaluate ABUTH facilities in preparation for the upcoming clinical trials to ensure the success of the study.
The Chief Medical Director explained that the clinical trials would be conducted in close collaboration with the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to be led by Prof. Adekunle Oguntayo, and the Department of Pathology headed by Dr. Murtala Abubakar.
The objective of the clinical trials, according to him, was to investigate the efficacy of maintenance drugs for ovarian cancer patients, particularly after receiving initial treatments.
He further said that the study sought to ascertain not only the effectiveness of these drugs but also their impact on African women, who have been found to have a lower incidence of ovarian cancer compared to their Caucasian counterparts.
Prof. Adekunle Oguntayo of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, who gave an insight into the project, said that studies had shown that African women exhibit a lower incidence of ovarian cancer and that this called for an in-depth exploration of the unique aspects of the disease.
“Over a span of three years we will meticulously analyze the effects of these maintenance drugs on African women’s health, taking into consideration their potential benefits and costs”, he said.
The collaboration with the University of Miami extends beyond the clinical trials, as it also encompasses the training of ABUTH’s medical consultants. Over the next two years, ABUTH plans to establish a team of trained gynae oncologists, who will subsequently impart their knowledge to fellow medical professionals upon their return.
Additionally, ABUTH’s Department of Pathology will benefit from the collaboration through an exchange program with the University of Miami, an initiative that seeks to cultivate sub-specialization in pathology.
Also speaking, Prof. Mathew Schlumbrencht of the University of Miami, disclosed that funding for the collaboration had been secured from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a UK pharmaceutical company.
This partnership not only marks GSK’s entry into the Nigerian market but also paved the way for potential national-level collaborations to harness the full spectrum of drugs produced by GSK, he also said.
Responding, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kabiru Bala, highlighted the University’s ongoing efforts to establish a dedicated Cancer Research Centre. “The prevalence of various cancer forms in our society necessitates concerted research efforts”, Prof. Bala further said.
The Vice-Chancellor pledged the University’s unwavering support for the collaboration and expressed optimism that it would catalyze numerous other mutually beneficial partnerships.