By Ismail Auwal

A team of researchers from the Federal University of Duste in Jigawa State has been awarded an N36 million research grant to investigate the high prevalence of kidney diseases in Hadejia Valley.

Hadejia Valley, which stretches from Zakirai in Kano State to Nguru and Gashua in Yobe, has Nigeria’s highest rate of kidney disease.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the university’s Chief Information Officer, Abdullahi Yahaya, said on Tuesday that the grant was given by the National Research Fund through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.

Yahaya added that the team would be led by Dr Muhammad Auyo, Head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the university.

He said, “The lead researcher picked interest in this research area after losing six friends and family members to kidney failure in Hadejia.”

“The title of the research is, ‘Rampant kidney diseases in Hadejia Valley, Yobe and Kano States: The Study of Environmental Toxins and Gene Polymorphism.’

Yahaya went on to say that Auyo and his colleagues would look into the prevalence of a gene called melallothionine, which puts Hadejia Valley residents at risk of kidney disease.

The study also aims to identify toxins found in the Hadejia Valley over the last 30 years as a result of pesticide and herbicide use, which may have altered the ecosystem.

According to the lead researcher, these chemicals may have harmed the food chain, particularly crops, water, and fish, and may have contributed to the high prevalence of kidney disease in the area.

Yahaya quoted Auyo as saying that the research team will take soil, water, vegetables, cereals, fruits, fishes and meat samples every month for 20 months to search for the presence of heavy metals.

The 16-member multidisciplinary research team is divided into Medical, Environmental, Genetic, and DNA sequencing teams.

“The research is for two years and is expected to come up with recommendations,” Yahaya stated.

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