Department of Biochemistry

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria - Nigeria

Departmental Research Profile


The Departmental Research is structured into units which capture core specializations of Biochemistry including; Biotechnology, Enzymology, Industrial and Nutritional Biochemistry. The Departmental Research structure is also flexible enough to allow multidisciplinary studies between the different core specializations with a goal to address tropical issues of Biochemical significance in;

  • Understanding molecular mechanisms of diseases
  • NA Vaccine development
  • Cellular and molecular mechanisms in plant gene expression and sickle cell anemia.
  • Nutritional Intervention

The Department of Biochemistry researchers have been at the fore front of several significant biochemical discoveries in the area of Enzymology, mechanisms of control of gene expression, Nutritional supplementation for the control of diarrhea and medicinal plants of clinical significance. Early work on Sialidase an enzyme responsible for cleaving terminal Sialic acid residues from glycoproteins and the role of Zinc in the control of childhood diarrhea started in the Department of Biochemistry. Similarly, the role of DNA methyl transferase in the control of plant gene expression had one of the Department’s Researcher as a major investigator.

Research Focus


MEDICAL RESEARCH FOCUS:
The role of Oxidative stress in health and disease, with special emphasis on diabetes and trypanosomiasis.

SICKLE CELL DISEASE (SCD) RESEARCH::
Research into Antisickling Agents with focus on plant inducers of Foetal Hemoglobin and Molecular mechanisms of gamma globulin up-regulation.

PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH:

  • JATROPHA
    Comparative nutritional composition of toxicity potential of J. carcass and J. atacorensis. Antibacterial effect of stem bark of Jathopha curcas and leaves of Mirabillis Jalapa.
  • AFRICAN MISTLETOE
    Studies on the effect of weather and diabetes on the expression of Beta tubulin gene in parasitic African mistletoe.
  • OCCIMUM
    Studies on antibacterial activity and restriction fragment pattern of O. gratisimum and H. suaveolens. Insecticidal potential of local plants (O. gratisimum and neem).
  • MILLET AND MAIZE
    Evaluation of genetic diversity in Millet and Maize for drought tolerance using RAPD.

CANCER RESEARCH FOCUS:
Evaluation of antioxidant polyphenols in diets and medicinal plant for chemoprevention and Management of Oxidative-Stress related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension.

ENZYMOLOGY RESEARCH FOCUS:

  • Enzyme Technology and Gene expression – The use of enzyme and other macromolecules as targets for enzyme inhibition and the use in bioremediation and bioengineering concepts.
  • Enzymes in Food/Drugs/Industrial processing technologies.
  • Nutritional, Toxicological, Environmental and Biotechnological related studies.

BIOFUEL RESEARCH:

  • Use of Agro waste for the production of Biofuel.
  • Use of Lipase Catalyzed Trans-esterification in the production of biodiesel.
  • Enzyme production using organic wastes.
  • Anti-trypanosomal potentials of Ideogram plant extracts.
  • Evaluation of anti-diabetic agents from indigenous plant extracts.

NUTRITION RESEARCH FOCUS:
Research focus in recent years has been directed at steps to improve food intake of man and his domestic animals in addition to using our local medicinal plants and local foods in the management of the metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus type 2.

IMPROVEMENT OF FOOD INTAKE BY MAN & DOMESTIC ANIMALS:
To reduce the demand on currently eaten conventional foods, effort has been directed at foods that are not conventionally eaten but are rich in important nutrients such as proteins, minerals and vitamins. Examples of such include wild beans (Vignea racemosa), velvet beans (Mucuna utilis) and debitterised neem (Azadiractha indica) seed cake. Vignea racemosa and Mucuna utilis are quite rich in protein and if they can be processed into forms that can be eaten by man or domestic animals, it will go a long way in reducing food shortages particularly proteins since protein intake is low in Nigeria and other developing countries of the world. Finding use for neem seed and agro wastes like maize cobs and sorghum bran will not only add economic value to the crops, and thereby encouraging farmers to grow more, but will also minimize environmental pollution.

NUTRITION AND THE USE OF LOCAL HERBS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF DIABETES:
The use of local medicinal plants and our local diets in the management of diabetes has received significant attention. Nauchlea latifolia has been found to have some antidiabetic effect in Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and effort is on to pin down the component that has the antidiabetic effect. Work is on to establish the glycaemic ranking of common Nigerian dishes so that a more efficient nutritional management of diabetes mellitus (particularly diabetes mellitus type 2) can be achieved.