The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) is collaborating with the Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR) to facilitate the large-scale production and cultivation of a medicinal plant for rheumatoid arthritis.
Capparis erythrocarpos Isert is an important medicinal plant used to produce “Sirrapac”, a herbal product for the management of the disease.
The partnership calls for GAEC’s Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) to develop protocols for multiplying some recalcitrant medicinal plants using tissue culture technology.
The Director-General of GAEC, Prof Samuel B. Dampare expressed confidence that this project will address an important limitation in the production of such herbal plant medicine, which is the scarcity of the plant raw material due to urbanization and deforestation of natural habitats.
In an interview with staff of the Communication and Public Relations Centre (CPRC), the Director of BNARI, Dr. Michael Osae stated that tissue culture technology can be used to produce high quality and disease-free planting materials of crops and medicinal plants.
He said that BNARI and CPMR have been in discussions on how to leverage biotechnologies such as tissue culture for rapid and large-scale multiplication of important medicinal plants that are on the verge of extinction but critical to CPMR’s work.
Following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), BNARI will initially develop tissue culture protocols for the large-scale production of Capparis erythrocarpos planting materials to aid establishment of plantation by CPMR” he said.
According to Dr. Wilfred Elegba, a Senior Research Scientist at the Biotechnology Centre of BNARI, the Capparis plant has useful medicinal properties that can treat rheumatoid arthritis.
He mentioned that the Centre for Plant Medicine Research has a herbal medicine product, “Sirrapac”. However, the CPMR is unable to meet the demand for “Sirrapac” due to insufficient quantities of the plant raw material for production.
“With BNARI’s nearly 30 years of experience in the development of plant tissue culture protocols for mass production of clean planting materials for food crops such as plantain, pineapple, sweet potato, sugarcane and medicinal plants such as Aframomum melegueta (alligator pepper) and Phyllantus niruri (Awommaa guwakyi), we look forward to assisting the Centre in expanding their production” he added.
On his part, the Executive Director of the Centre for Plant Medicine Research, Prof. Alex Asase expressed his profound gratitude to GAEC for its efforts in making the collaboration a reality.
He stated that through this collaboration, CPMR and GAEC will work to ensure the sustainability and availability of medicinal plants that are essential to the Centre’s work.
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