Sometimes we just feel super proud of being Ghanaian. Black power!!
But now, another person who is quickly winning our hearts is Dr Cynthia Danquah, a senior lecturer at the Department of Pharmacology at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Through her research, she has been able to determine how we can use onion, yes onion, to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Plants such as onion do produce chemicals as part of their defence against the soil bacteria. These chemicals that are produced ward against other plants from their immediate environment,” Dr Danquah told the BBC in an interview.
Basically, what that means is that the Onions are able to mark their territory and prevent other plants or bacteria from coming near them by producing a particular type of chemical.
So what Dr Danquah did was to test these defensive chemicals against diseases such as tuberculosis or E-coli and it did the magic.
These chemicals that are produced by the onion can then be “used in the future to develop new antibiotics because they are showing a different mechanism of action from the antibiotics we have in the market.”
Research has shown that bacteria are becoming resistant to current antibiotics available on the market, that is why there is the need to find new ways of developing drugs that can fight them.
In a practical sense, if new antibiotics are not developed then we won’t be able to treat a rash because that ointment won’t be able to kill the bacteria causing that rash.
According to the World Health Organization, scientists need to act very fast to find new antibiotics that can kill these bacteria.
That is why Dr Danquah’s discovery is that important because it has provided hope to the scientific community that a new chemical can be used to fight these resistant strains of bacteria.
“There is an increase in antibacterial resistant and pipeline for new antibiotics is running dry. There is the need to develop new antibiotics for diseases such as TB and HIV” because “Bacteria resistant is a problem all over the world,” she said.
Though Dr Danquah used European onion species (Persian Shallots) for her research, she hopes to start using local Ghanaian onions to continue her research to fight the now antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Dr Danquah made her discovery while studying for her PhD at the London University’s Birkbeck College on a GetFUND scholarship.