South African center to focus on regional drug-development needs

South Africa has launched a new Drug Discovery and Development Center that promises to bridge the gap between basic sciences and drug development. But what is perhaps more important for Sub-Saharan Africa is that the new center will allow "Africans to find their own solutions to their own health problems," said Kelly Chibale, founding director and a chemist at the University of Cape Town, according to SciDev.Net.

"South Africa has a strong reputation in developing basic sciences and clinical studies, so researchers will bridge the gap that has always existed in translating knowledge into new medicines," Chibale explained in an interview with SciDev.Net, adding that the center will attempt to fill gaps in knowledge about drug discovery. The focus will be on treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Mamphela Ramphele of the Technology Innovation Agency of South Africa said researchers should also take on diseases specific to Africa, such as typhoid, cholera and river blindness. Chibale said the opening of the center is only the beginning. "I don't want to create any unrealistic expectations," he said. "We will kiss many frogs before meeting the prince."

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