Reports from CAIP Affiliates:
The International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development (IOCD)
1. Status, Overall Purpose and Organization of IOCD:
IOCD is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization (NGO), created in 1981 by a group of distinguished scientists from 15 countries gathered at UNESCO in Paris. Their concern was to organize collaboration between scientists in developed and developing countries as a means of helping scientists in developing countries to strengthen their research and direct it to local needs and problems. IOCD is registered in Belgium as a nonprofit organization and is listed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) as an Associated Organization.
To facilitate this collaboration between scientists in developed and developing countries, IOCD formed scientific working groups, which at present exist in the following areas that are relevant to the developing countries:
- tropical diseases
- medicinal chemistry
- plant chemistry environmental analytical chemistry, and
- bioprospecting (through IOCD’s Biotic Exploration Fund).
2. Rationale and specific aims of IOCD’s activities:
The principal modality of IOCD’s work with scientists in developing countries at first saw each working group organizing collaborative research on a topic in the working group’s area of interest that is relevant to developing countries. Increasingly, however, IOCD is adopting the modality of holding regional workshops in the developing countries on topics of critical importance to these countries. A workshop enables IOCD scientists to share contemporary research techniques and knowledge with the scientists in these countries. IOCD considers the workshop to be an exceptionally cost effective format for collaboration, for IOCD's scientists serve voluntarily, with IOCD meeting only their travel and maintenance costs, while covering all the costs of scientists of developing countries who participate in the workshops.
3. Current contributions of IOCD’s international activities to development:
- SECOND INTERNATIONAL JOINT SYMPOSIUM: “CHEMISTRY, BIOLOGICAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF MEDICINAL PLANTS FROM THE AMERICAS.”15-18 August 2004 at Sao Pedro, Brazil
This symposium was organized jointly by IOCD’s Working Group on Plant Chemistry (Dr. Kurt Hostettmann, Chairman), the Brazilian Chemical Society (SBQ) (Professor Paulo Vieira, President) and the Iberoamerican Program for Scientific and Technological Development (CYTED) (Professor Mahabir Gupta, Chairman of Subprogram X). It was the second joint symposium in South America, the first was held in Panama in 1997. The symposium once again brought together scientists from American (principally South and Central America) and other countries interested in the investigation of American plants with the intention of providing insight into the current state and future trends of the subject.
The Americas are home to an incredible diversity of plant species and the tropical forests (the Amazon, for example) are rich potential sources of new pharmaceutical products. Local populations of the Americas make wide-scale use of plants for the treatment of diverse ailments. These plants are gradually being studied and the secrets of their chemistry and pharmacological activities are slowly being unraveled. However, deforestation and over-exploitation of natural resources confer a certain urgency to this particular field of research and it is opportune to gather together the scientists involved in order to discuss results obtained. The Sao Pedro meeting provided such a forum.
A total of 12 plenary lectures covering a variety of topics, ranging from bioassays and the chemistry of natural products to industrial considerations of phyto-medicines, were presented at the meeting. The plenary lectures were accompanied by two poster sessions (with a total of more than 70 posters) and a series of short lectures from representatives of the following countries: Brazil, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Kenya, Germany and Switzerland.
The symposium participants numbered 93, of whom 61 were from Brazil. A larger number may have attended had the meeting been held in a major city like Sao Paulo rather than in Sao Pedro, a small and rather inaccessible town more than 200 km from Sao Paulo.
- COST B22 CONGRESS: “DRUG DEVELOPMENT FOR PARASITIC DISEASES.” November 22 – 24, 2004 at Antwerp, Belgium
COST B22 is a European action in the framework of the "Cooperation in Sciences and Technology" (COST) programme of the European Commission. The action comprises in addition to 15 European countries, Israel and Canada and is associated with non-governmental organizations, INCLUDING the "International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development" (IOCD), and the "Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative" (DNDi), who are involved as observers.
COST B22 started in 2002 with the aim to develop new and better drugs for parasitic diseases, mainly those of the Tropics, such as African sleeping sickness, Chagas' disease, the various manifestations of leishmaniasis and malaria. Other diseases such as trichomoniasis, amaebiasis and giardiasis are also included. For most of these diseases the available drugs are limited and often resistance for them by the parasites renders them highly inefficient.
In order to improve the present situation the COST B22 participants have created 5 working groups:
Working Group 1: “ Drug target identification”
Working Group 2: “ Target characterisation and inhibitor design”
Working Group 3: “ Drug evaluation”
Working Group 4: “ Preclinical Research/Development”
Working Group 5: “ Drug Resistance”
Each group makes a detailed analysis of the current situation. To address the problems identified they organise specific activities, such as expert meetings and/or the exchange of scientific personnel between their laboratories. Once per year all groups meet during their annual congress to present their progress, to exchange ideas and to inform the scientific community and the public. Meeting costs are covered by COST and the funding from IOCD enables COST B22 to invite a number of scientists from developing countries to the COST B22 Congress.
Scientific results and meeting reports are being published. A website describing the details of the action is available at http://www.icp.ucl.ac.be/cost/costB22/.
( Prepared by Dr. Fred R. Opperdoes (Chairman, IOCD Working Group on Tropical Diseases), ICP-TROP Ave. Hippocrate 75, B1200 Brussels, Belgium.
IOCD program “Books for International Development.”
The IOCD program called Books for International Development (BID) provides university-level books to developing countries in Africa. Dr. James Cosentino, Vice Chair of the IOCD Working Group on Medicinal Chemistry, and Professor of Biology at Millersville University in Pennsylvania (USA) is the originator of this program and serves as its director, receiving the full cooperation of his university.
The program is accepting university-level books in science as well as other disciplines (textbooks and others) and journals that cover at least a period of one year. Items should be no more than 15 years old and in very good condition. Recent wars and continued poverty have created a need for new university libraries and holdings. Countries that have a high priority are Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Chad, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Mali.
Cooperating with IOCD as sponsors of this project are UNESCO, the State of Pennsylvania, the World Bank and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). UNESCO is the principal source of funds for the program. Dr. Cosentino has established close working relationships with a similar type of book project operated by the World Bank Volunteer Services (a service for families of World Bank staff).
(Prepared by Dr. M. James Cosentino, Chairman, IOCD “Books For International Development.” Department of Biology, Millersville University, Millersville, PA 17551)
- IOCD Consultant support to the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology in convening the “National Conference on Bioprospecting: A Contribution to Poverty Alleviation,” January or February 2005 in Kampala, Uganda.
- IOCD Consultant support to analytical laboratories in Uganda and Kenya that are performing testing of commodities destined for export, their tests required to comply with international standards in EU countries and/or USA. (project started in April 2004).