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Africa ‘perfect’ location for drug development


Continent’s genetic diversity makes it ideal place to test drugs

[SFSA2020] Africa’s “huge genetic diversity” makes it the ideal locale to test new drugs and treatments, a South Africa-based geneticist has said.

Collet Dandara, a geneticist at the University of Cape Town specialising in pharmacogenomics and drug metabolism, said the genetic diversity of African populations could lead to more effective drugs.

Dandara said that genetic diversity in European and North American populations, where most clinical trials take place, is low compared to the continent.

He added that the genomic variants dominant in those populations also exist in Africa. “Genetic diversity is more concentrated in Africa,” he said.

Dandara countered the argument that this diversity is due to race, saying that there is no scientific basis for race. “There is larger genomic variance [because of] geographic areas which people milk and say [they are] different races,” he said.

Dandara made the remarks on 10 December during a panel discussion at this year’s virtual Science Forum South Africa.