The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has received Sh77.2 million from the National Research Fund (NRF) to carry out stem cell research geared at providing solutions to help patients suffering from various ailments.
Research Scientists at the institution are expected to utilise the fund to develop new technologies for the treatment and prevention of non-communicable diseases, which are attributed to 27 percent of all deaths annually.
On Thursday, while commissioning the Centre of Excellence in Stem Research at KEMRI headquarters in Nairobi, the Chairman of the National Research Fund, Prof. Ratemo Michieka, said the project will enable the scientists to use the stem cells to come up with solutions that can be used locally and internationally.
Michieka asked the Scientists to select a material that they can produce and that can help the nation in research and development in line with job creation, adding that coming out with specific areas that are their best will make their hypothesis recognised and graded globally.
He also encouraged the institution to look for land and set up a factory for manufacturing medicine and a product that Kenya can be proud of.
“KEMRI has a name out of Kenya; you should never give up on research, promote what you can do, talk about it, explore, and create global and regional interlinkages,” stated the Chairman.
Michieka said the country has good scientists and knowledge and encouraged Members of Parliament to utilise the scientists in their areas as their research findings in biotechnology can help establish industries, thereby creating employment for youth in their constituencies.
The Chairman said President William Ruto is keen on Science and Technology, a reason he attributed to the increment in funding for research.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the KEMRI Board of Directors, Dr. Abdullahi Ibrahim, said the Stem Cell Research facility will address the enormity of non-communicable diseases in the country, which contribute to more than 50 per cent of in-patient hospital admissions.
“Cardiovascular diseases account for the majority of non-communicable disease-related deaths in the country, a trend that is worrying,” said Ibrahim, adding that there is a dire need for researchers and scientists to find solutions to tackle the diseases, including new approaches for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure.
He said the centre will enable the researchers to generate healthy cells to replace those affected by cancer, road accidents, and other diseases.
“Stem cells can be guided into becoming specific cells that can be used in people to regenerate and repair tissues that have been damaged or affected by diseases,” said the KEMRI Chairman.
KEMRI Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Elijah Songok, who thanked NRF for the financial support, said stem cell research will enable the institute to develop new therapies to regenerate and repair tissues that have been damaged or affected by diseases, accidents singling out cancer, spinal cord injuries and burns among others.
Songok announced that KEMRI’s medical products, among them diagnostic kits, candidate vaccines, and drugs against various diseases produced by the institution, are ready for large-scale manufacturing through local and international manufacturers establishing their footprints in Kenya and the region.
KEMRI has consolidated its research activities into six categories, which include biotechnology, natural product research and drug development, infectious and parasitic diseases, public health and health systems, non-communicable diseases, and sexual, reproductive, adolescent, and child health.
-Kenya News Agency(KNA)