Ghanaian and Japanese Researchers Discover New Compounds for Treatment of Major Parasitic Diseases


Scientists from two Ghanaian institutions - Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) of the University of Ghana and Centre for Plant Medicine Research in collaboration with Kyushu Bunka Gakuen Foundation and National University Co-operation Tokyo Medical & Dental University have discovered a new compound isolated from Morinda lucida. The compound has great potential for treatment and/or prevention of diseases such as malaria, trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis.

A patent has since been granted for the invention. The notice of patent grant is duly published in Issue No. 40 of the Commercial and Industrial Bulletin dated Friday, 18th August 2017. The invention involves novel compounds having anti-parasitic properties against the causes of sleeping sickness, cutaneous leishmaniasis and malaria.

This invention is important as any medicine developed from the product will help in the fight against malaria, trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis cases and slow down the occurrence of new infections.

In 2015 about 212 million cases of malaria and an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths were recorded. New trypanosomiasis patients (sleeping sickness) in Africa is also estimated between 200,000 and 300,000 per year. Also, trypanosomiasis parasites infect several hundred thousand of cattle, that would serve as protein sources for people, dying from malnutrition every year in Africa. Estimates also show that about 350 million people are at risk of infection of leishmaniasis in over 88 countries across the world.

The researchers have demonstrated that the compounds are of pharmaceutical importance which could help reduce the global incidence of deaths from malaria, trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis significantly. The present invention relates to novel compounds having a tetracyclic iridoid skeleton which have anti-trypanosomal activity, anti-leishmanial activity and anti-plasmodial activity and an anti-trypanosomal agent, anti-leishmanial agent and anti-plasmodial agent comprising the compound.

We congratulate the inventors, especially the University of Ghana team on this cutting-edge research and for making the University of Ghana proud. This is a remarkable achievement which is in line with the University’s vision to become a world class research-intensive University over the next decade.


The team of inventors from the University of Ghana are:

  1. Professor Kwabena Mante Bosompem, Department of Parasitology, NMIMR

  2. Professor Kwadwo Ansah Koram, Department of Epidemiology, NMIMR

  3. Professor Daniel Adjei Boakye, Department of Parasitology, NMIMR

  4. Professor Regina Appiah-Opong, Department of Clinical Pathology, NMIMR

  5. Professor Alexander Kwadwo Nyarko, School of Pharmacy

  6. Dr. Irene Ayi, Department of Parasitology, NMIMR 


We will continue to work with the inventors in exploring the commercial viability of this invention. The University of Ghana, Office of Research, Innovation and Development affirms its continuous support to working with all researchers and inventors in advancing their intellectual efforts for the benefit of the inventors, the University and the society at large.