VC's Occasional Lecture by Prof. Manuel Elkin Patarroyo

The lecture was opened by a welcoming address by the Dean, School of Public Health, Prof. Richard Adanu and chaired by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey who expressed his delight in hosting the lecture. This lecturer, the dean indicated was at the instance of the Colombian Ambassador, Mrs. Claudia Turbay Quintero. This was included in the plan that was drawn up by the Embassy for Prof. Manuel’s first visit to Ghana.
The next person to speak was the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey who said we are very fortunate to receive Prof. Manuel who will be speaking to us on “Immune Protection Inducing Synthetic Protein Structures (IMPIPS): The New Vaccines Development“. He deemed it as interesting because the University of Ghana is seeking to be actively involved in the development of vaccines. He then proceeded to introduce the speaker. Prof. Manuel Professor Manuel Elkin Patarroyo M. (1946) who received his M.D. degree from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in 1971 where he is Full Professor of Molecular Pathology. He conducted post-doctoral studies at the Yale University and at Rockefeller University, U.S.A. with Professor Henry Kunkel, and on Tumor Immunology at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, with Professor George Klein. In 1976, he founded the Instituto de Inmunología at the San Juan de Dios Hospital, devoted to the development of chemically synthesized vaccines, among them the antimalarial vaccine, with the advice of Professors Bruce Merrifield (Rockefeller University), Professor Richard Lerner (Scripps Research Institute) and Professor David Andreu (Pompeu Fabra University). The first chemically synthesized vaccine against this scourging disease was published in 1987 followed by a large series of clinical and field trials in different parts of the world that allowed the conclusion of the feasibility of chemically synthesized vaccines.

He has been the invited speaker at more than a thousand international symposia and several national symposia and congresses and author of three hundred and seventy seven (377) articles published in high-impact scientific international journals such as Nature, Lancet, Chemical Reviews, Vaccine, and Accounts of Chemical Research among others, with more than 5,000 citations. His work is targeted towards searching for radical solutions against scourging diseases, especially people inhabiting tropical and subtropical regions of the world. He developed the first chemically synthesized vaccine (SPf66) in 1987, this being the first vaccine against a parasite and the first one to be produced in a third-world country. He donated the SPf66 patent to the World Health Organization in 1995 to ensure a cheap and accessible cure for people in developing countries. He is currently the Director of Fundación Instituto de Inmunologia de Colombia – FIDIC


Prof. Manuel acknowledged the Vice Chancellor and the Dean as well as the Colombian ambassador and other members of the University Community. He came to Ghana via the invitation of the Ambassador. He expressed his appreciation to the University and Government of Ghana. The day before, he visited the Kintampo Research Centre and today before coming to School of Public health he was at the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research and expressed his appreciation to his ambassador.
Proceeding with his lecture he gave a gradual expose on his fight against malaria. He went beyond the malaria problem and used a logical and rational methodology to address the issue. There are six and half million people dying from infectious diseases every year and malaria is one of them.
His initial research work was mainly into Tuberculosis until he was convinced by Peter Periman to work on Malaria because it was much more ‘profitable’ scientifically. He has since 1983 been working on Malaria. Malaria was a second project to Tuberculosis for him. 200 – 300 million are infected every year with Malaria out of which 618, 248 die. The reason why he took interest in malaria is because it is a model disease. It is very acute but easy to diagnose.
The parasite: He explained how the parasite works to transmit the malaria. It transmits it 30,000 times in one week. It infects the red blood cells within 40 seconds. He went on to explain what he proposed regarding vaccines in 1983.
In 1987, 25,000 people were involved in human trials and it was found that the vaccine was completely safe. It was then tested in the field. It protected 40% of the people but was seen to be more effective in children aged between 1-5 years. The question then was ‘will it work in Africa’. It was then tried in Tanzania and efficacy was 31%. But there was a mistake…..the American vaccine was not properly synthesized.


This is the name of a vaccine. He went on to elaborate on the steps for vaccine development. You have only 40 seconds hence the vaccine needs to work faster than that. He further explained that the immune system doesn’t see the binding sequences. He showed the components of the new malaria vaccine and indicated that it took him 35 years to develop the vaccine. He went on to say that he was surprised no researcher paid attention to the host hence he was interested in the genetic exposure.
His vaccines were tested on Monkeys. During his research work he was accused by authorities of Monkey trafficking and was forced to keep the monkeys for 3 years but used the opportunity to conduct tests. He was forced to keep them because authorities wanted to know from where the monkeys originated. After 3 years he was forced to release them back into the jungle.
He concluded his presentation by acknowledging the fact that he was always been associated with his fellow research colleagues.
The Vice Chancellor thanked him for a clear presentation and opened the floor for questions after which he made a presentation on behalf of the School of Public Health to express their appreciation.