Turning up the volume for precision herbal medicine in Africa in an era of COVID-19 and planetary biodiversity loss
CITATION: Thomford, N. E. et al. 2020. Turning up the volume for precision herbal medicine in Africa in an era of COVID-19 and planetary biodiversity loss. OMICS, 24, doi:10.1089/omi.2020.0150.
The original publication is available at https://www.liebertpub.com
What would it take in terms of the structural reforms in science, technology, and culture to cultivate sustainable therapeutic and preventive medicine innovations against zoonotic infections such as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the 21st century? In May 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned that “around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.” Biodiversity is essential for drug discovery and development. We are currently facing a dual challenge in therapeutics innovation with COVID-19 and loss in planetary biodiversity. Hence, there is an urgent need for new ideas and strategies for drug discovery as well as repurposed drugs for the COVID-19 pandemic. To these ends, the existing scholarship in, and the field of precision herbal medicine provide an alternative source for discovery of novel therapeutics against the novel coronavirus. We propose that the application of precision herbal medicine in Africa could usefully contribute to current efforts for therapeutics innovation for the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. The pandemic calls for interdisciplinary dialogue and turning up the volume for precision herbal medicine in Africa, and importantly, in ways informed by robust systems science as well as broad public engagement to codesign medicines in the 21st century.