The research was a KNUST- Building Stronger Universities (BSU II) project initiative, with the objective to strengthen KNUST's capacity to utilize quality research in solving crunch societal problems and promote Postgraduate education in Ghana. It was carried out to screen for sources of biofilm inhibitors in traditional medicinal plants in the Ejisu-Juabeng District of the Ashanti Region of Ghana, for the management of Antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) according to the World Health Organization (W.H.O) refers to the ability of microbial organisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites, protozoa, and fungi, to stop the action of antimicrobial drugs such as antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials, from working against them in the treatment of infections they are known to cause. AMR is associated with the resistant strains of the microorganisms forming biofilms; the sticking together of their cells to surfaces (of drug targets in the body) to prevent the action of antimicrobial medications or drugs administered. Potential agents for the management of AMR are therefore expected to exhibit prevention/inhibition of biofilm formation, to prevent ineffectiveness of drugs against infections, persistence of infectious disease, and the spread to other people leading to disabilities and deaths.
The four months intensive research was carried out by a team of lecturers and postgraduate students at the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, KNUST. It has established biofilm inhibitory activities of some medicinal plants surveyed for and collected from the said District in the Ashanti region, against the main clinical resistant strains of microorganisms known to cause AMR. The study commenced with preliminary screening for antimicrobial activity of 40 collected plant samples using resistant strains including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyrogens, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae, with Ciprofloxacin (DENK PHARMA GmbH & Co, Germany) as the reference drug. Eight (8) plants namely; Bridelia stenocarpa, Anogeissus stericea, Trichilia lanata, Grossera vignei, Acacia ataxacantha, Albizia ferruginea, Holarrhea floribunda, and Triplochiton scleroxylon, showed considerable antimicrobial activities at the end of the screening process.
The biofilm inhibition activities of the 8 plants were then determined against the 4 strong biofilm producing strains of microorganisms namely; Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyrogenes, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Two of the eight plants exhibited strong inhibition of biofilm formation. The two plants; Grossera vignei (Twi: Osese) and Holarrhena floribuna (Twi: Odubrafo) are currently undergoing further studies to isolate and characterize the components responsible for the biofilm inhibition activities to discover new pharmaceuticals or drugs to curb antimicrobial resistance associated with the treatment of infectious diseases, and also to study how the plants may disrupt already formed biofilms in AMR.
The investigators believe the study has help build the capacity of researchers in KNUST to study biofilm for the first time, with a protocol for the study of bacteria biofilms developed also for the first time in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical sciences. According to the team, the study places KNUST researchers on the right stead to develop drugs to help curb the menace of microbial diseases and antimicrobial resistance. The pilot study has also afforded five postgraduate students involved, the opportunity to experience training in medicinal plant survey and biofilm study, in fulfillment of the objectives of the BSUII project.
The research team also believes the outcome of the study will help develop the Ghanaian Herbal industry in the selection of Medicinal plants for the formulation of potent Herbal antimicrobial medicines or products for the treatment of infectious diseases without the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance.
BY: EMMANUEL BENTIL ASARE ADUSEI