The Gabon-Oregon Center recently launched a new study to explore novel diabetes drug development and childhood brain disease. OHSU Professor and Senior Scientist, Dr. Peter Spencer, who traveled to Gabon in August 2015, and the Director General of the National Institute of Agronomy and Biotechnologies in Gabon, Mr. Alain Souza, are studying the ackee fruit, native to tropical West Africa, including Gabon, and its potential effects on local populations who consume it.
Specifically, they are studying disease prevention among Gabonese children, given that children who eat unripe ackee can develop a fatal brain disease resulting from severely depressed serum glucose levels caused by the large amounts of a natural amino acid contained in the fruit. The team is also exploring the use of the ackee fruit's natural properties as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of diabetes worldwide.
In addition to the obvious human health benefits of this work, the team's goal of creating a Gabonese drug that will be developed and sold exclusively from Gabon directly supports the Center's mission of encouraging the country's intellectual and economic potential to be maintained within its borders.