My Eczema Chronicle…

I was just like any normal child born to this world and growing looking forward to a bright future. The story of my eczema started unexpectedly as there’re no one to the best of my knowledge within and outside of my immediate and extended families with eczema. So how I got to have it, is a misery. Around 1999/2000 during my high school days, I noticed these rashes-like looking spots on my left arm. It was very hitching. The Hitching was such that scratching it feels good and painful but noticeably was the more I scratched the more it spread. Before long I noticed my right arm was replicating the rash-like pattern. It became a concern for me. I saw a quite number of doctors and consultants, the best they could do is prescribe drugs and skin medication creams. The interesting thing was that none of this medical practitioners never made mention of eczema. Probably they had no idea was the problem was then. Anyway, neither the drugs nor the creams solved the problem. Months passed and my situation wasn’t getting better rather worse as everything I used and applied had no effect. On a faithful morning, I walked into our sitting room and there was a program on the television called the Morning Express. There was a consultant invited on the show who discussed on the skin and he made mention of Atopic eczema, and as I listened to him, everything he said about eczema fitted my experience and that was the very first time I heard of the word eczema. The sad part for me after I watched the programme was when he said that the cause is unknown and it can only be managed. Thereafter I started researching on eczema but then access to information and internet was very limited in Nigeria. The mobile and the internet boom was still at it infancy. But as a desperate young man seeking solutions, I spent money going to the internet cafés, downloaded as much as I could lay my hands. By then more than half of my hands was covered with eczema and I can barely off my clothes in the public, so I had to wear a long shirt to cover my eczema shame. Much of the information I got could only help me to understand eczema and manage it. And so for the next 10 years, I was managing it. There were times it seems it was going and it just returned again. It was a game of hide and seek. During this period I ensured I avoided scratching, importantly was I avoided dryness which is a trigger factor for scratching. As I took these measures, it worked to a certain level but returned with a bigger explosion!!!. In between this 10 years period, I had the worst eczema when it showed up behind my two knees, it showed below my breast, abdomen, my neck regions, my right foot and upper right leg. It was hell broke loose, and psychologically traumatic for me. I just couldn’t fathom was the root cause of the sudden expansion and spread of the eczema. I must mention that I altered, adjusted my diets in effort to narrow down to the root cause, maybe it something internal from what I take was the problem and the closest I came was my protein intake especially beans but it wasn’t my protein intake. I was helpless and without any alternatives, I started to live with my ordeal and I came to accept it as part of me.

My Eczema from 2009 till Date

Eczema took a better part of me emotionally, psychologically and affected my social interaction. Has I worked to manage it, I also hide it under the clothes. It took some courage after a while in 2008 when I started to wear T-shirt. It wasn’t by choice then but by compulsion because I was doing the National Youth Service Corp and we had to wear T-shirts. It like life has a way of forcing me to face the shame I was running from. Thence, many people saw my hands, and those who either by curiosity or sheer courage asked what happened to me and so I used it to educated them on eczema. I was gradually getting to live, move and interact without fear but I still got those stared look occasionally. The eczema was distinctly dry black on my skin and because I am light skinned, made it more obvious. Sometimes it like you can see through the dried layer waiting to shed off and unleash a fresh eczema rash underneath.
The year 2009, October 30th, I arrived in the UK for my masters. I was focused on the main business…study. Within 3 months into the program without anything extraordinary except that it was a cold winter, I saw my skin started taking shape back to it normal form, I didn’t wanted to rejoice early because of previous similar experiences and I waited quietly expecting for another unsurprising return. And 3 months turned 6 eczema and my eczema skin regions got better. It was a miracle unexplainable and unexpected. I tried to look at what changed or habits but nothing. I picked up many of the foods I stopped eating, no eczema. In a year, my eczema infected skin regions was back to normal. 10-year eczema cleared within a year. It got so better that it would be hard to believe I ever had it.

January 2011 – July 2011

In January, I returned back home to Nigeria. It was a great reunion and with a shocking look on everyone’s face who was aware of my skin problem, saw how everything had disappeared without a trace. A miracle?…yea…you are probably wrong!!!.
My eczema was like a wounded lion waiting to strike. Barely a month to my return, the eczema showed up again…and as usual my two arms. This time, I was lost to what to suspect.. The air,the water (both drinking and bathing), the foods, and the whole house. I was devastated and confused. The question ringing in my brain was “What am I reacting or allergic to”. I took every measures against the eczema and maybe probably one of the factors I mentioned above was the root cause but none worked as I also avoid scratching because it itched alot, and helplessly watched as the eczema took over. Six months on, July, I returned back to the UK, less than a month of returning, the eczema stopped. I began to wonder what was peculiar about these two different environments that one seem to favour the eczema and the other stopped it.
By October 2011, I had fully recovered and prepared to returned to Nigeria. This time I had prepared a list of do and don’t when I arrived home.

October 2011 – February 2012

Between this period I was extremely careful of what I eat, drink, bath, clothes, and importantly avoid excessive heat which I could say was the only difference between the UK and the Nigeria environment. My careful measures could only last me 21/2 months before the eczema show up again.

February 2012 – April 2014

This time I was in South Africa, just like my UK experience. The eczema went into hibernation, I cannot say disappeared or gone because I sensed that something external which I cannot explain triggers it. And for good 2 years of my time doing my doctorate research, there was no sign of eczema. April 2014, I visited Nigeria, just like anyone following would guess/suspect, the eczema woke up from hibernation and within 2-week, it appeared fresh on my skin, 2-weeks after, I returned back to South Africa and I was fine. This time I was suspecting the whole country in addition to the previously mentioned…Funny..yea

April 2014 – March 2015

I was ok till I visited Nigeria in March 2015 for 3 weeks, yea..I thought as much, I probably have Nigeria Eczema Syndrome (NES). It became more psychological that anytime I am in Nigeria I must have eczema. The eczema showed up and I can only bid my time to return back.

March 2015 – June 2016

As the trend follows, I returned back to SA completed my doctorate degree with no eczema (hibernating). By mid-year, I moved to the UK, now a family man. I have since travel to and through few countries with no incidence of eczema. Whilst in the UK, I had an experience in April 2016, I used a body spray and few days after the eczema showed up but it wasn’t much after I discontinued using the spray. By then, we have a four months old baby who suddenly developed skin rashes. I examined him and the pattern of his rashes is exactly like mine. I can’t but help suspects he caught the eczema bug. I thought deep within if my problem is rooted at the gene level. Probably I have a faulty gene somewhere. I had long suspected it but there wasn’t any way to test it out. I could only suspect something external. For the next 8-months plus, we watched our child battled his own skin rashes

June 2016 – till date

So I am back in Nigeria, and if you try guessing and you will be probably be right…the eczema is back. The first 6 months of my return was a welcome back eczema (NES). I have only been able to manage it now. I have tried medications and I had to share a skin medication cream prescription for my boy which seems to work fine for both of us.

The motivation for putting up this eczema chronicle was the recent research article by Nick et al which can be found here. My own take on the research is though, they experimented under a controlled experimental condition. Is their controlled variables apply to most or few of us living with eczema? I wish it could answer what is causing my suppose loss of filaggrin if it is actually the implicating factor to my eczema. I wish to know the epigenetic playing out in my body that is affecting the gene causing the eczema. I hope the next decade will provide concrete answers and our knowledge of stopping eczema is established. While I can only hope for a permanent solution, I desired this skin problem doesn’t manifest in the nearest future on my children and if it does manifest, hopefully a solution should be waiting for them.

Do you have equipment or consumables that you no longer need?

We are interested in laboratory equipment and consumables donations. If you have any unused equipments, unexpired surplus supplies and taking up space or are shutting down a lab contact us at Admin (at) skool2 (dot) i (dot) ng or tweet
**If you have expired reagents/chemicals/agars etc. It can be donated which we can use as training materials/resources.

Some of the items on our wish list include (but are not limited to):

  • 2 Antibiotics Dispensers (6 or 8 space cartridges)
  • Digital venier caliper
  • Swabs
  • Parafilms
  • Muller Hitton agars (Expired accepted; good for training)
  • Antibiotics discs (Expired accepted; good for training)
  • Pipettes, lots of pipettes – think The Bolt
  • Bioreactors
  • Plasmid DNA, got any cool and exotic stuff you can spare?
  • Tips, plates, tubes, gloves, etc.

Please note, though, we can’t take everything. In particular, some lab equipment is unrepairable, contaminated, or so out-dated that it’s no longer useful, and is in fact expensive to dispose of…Not wanted.Thank you

. See here for more wish lists… and

Food and Cancer

It is no news that cancer is the second leading causes of death in the world. In 2015, it accounted for about 8.8 million deaths. Cancer arises when normal cells are transformed into tumors cells in a multi-staged process that progresses from pre-cancerous lesion to malignant tumor. The five common types of cancer are lung, stomach, colorectal, liver and breast.


Risk factors for cancer includes; dietary factors, obesity/overweight, tobacco use, alcohol use, physical inactivity, and environmental (exposure to radiation). All these factors are modifiable and can therefore reduce the burden of cancer.


Carbohydrate: Although studies have not shown consensus on the role of carbohydrate in cancer, however, some studies have suggested that high intake of dietary fibre (complex carbohydrate) can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The proposed mechanism of action is that dietary fibre works by facilitating the transition of food through the large intestine by fermentation the food to short chain fatty acid which may induce apoptosis, promotes cell differentiation and inhibits secondary bile acid production (Key & Spencer, 2007). Research has also suggested that high sucrose and lactose intake may increase the risk for the development of colorectal and ovarian cancer respectively.

Fat: Increased dietary fat may lead to overweight/obesity which is a risk factor for the development of colorectal cancer and breast cancer. Overweight /obesity increases endogenous estrogen level in postmenopausal women and this may explain the high risk of postmenopausal breast and endometrial cancer for women. Furthermore, hyperinsulinemia associated with obesity/overweight may also increases the risk for colon cancer (Key et al., 2004).

Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetable are high in nutrients that have been suggested to protect against cancer development. They are good sources of vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants. Studies have shown that high intake of antioxidant rich food is inversely related to cancer risk. Antioxidants helps reverse the damage caused by free radicals to normal cells. They also induce cell apoptosis in cancer cells preventing angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and metastasis (spread of cancer cells). This proposed mechanism of action has made suggestion for antioxidants to be used as adjuvants in cancer therapy.

Tips for cancer prevention 

  • Tobacco control
  • Healthy diet which is to include a lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Preventing harmful alcohol usage
  • Reduced exposure to radiation

Share your views!!! Catch me on T

Our Naija Police force

Recently, I had a privilege to be at the Nigeria Police headquarters, ladies and gentlemen. So be an officer of the Nigeria force can be beautiful. I have seen police both men and women and for the first time, I had to take a proper and careful look at them. Despite all the negativity parading our Naija officers, I must say this time around, I kinda fall in love with them. Someone might say “haa…he had never had a bad moment(s) with them”. Well I do have handful of bad experiences in time past and even recently. Know this, that my views can be one sided with some level of biasness but then I am expressing them based on my few hour experience in their domain. Most of the time we get to hear about the NPF headquarter will be in the News, probably because it involves high profile cases. Starting from the moment I stepdown at Area 11 and crossing over to the Louis Edet building, you begin to have a sense of you entering a tight security zone. You mess up, you get dealt with, simple as that. So I waited patiently for my dear escort to lead me through for the purpose for which I came for, a smart young officer, probably the same age as I or even older than me pulled up beside me in his tushed ride. I popped into his car and off we go inside the headquarter. Seeing the siren of the environment was enchanting, beautifully trimmed flowers around but so many cars parked. One thing that got me more inquisitive was when my escort said, “he was not looking tiding” and his provost must not catch him. I looked at him again, in my mind, he was looking ok, not until I started looking at the other officers that walked pass and those standing by security doors, then I understood what he really was talking about. The Nigerian police officers at the Abuja headquarter are super clean, as in clean, you can hardly notice a hair strand on their faces and their police ladies had their hairs well packed as well. I just wonder why this feature of the force officers never never caught my attention. What my memories can only recall are tatted looking officers, unkempt and sometimes sickly appearance. I wondered why or maybe is it because it is the head base of all police force that facilitated such cleanliness? Not only that, I started observing their dressing (by the way I am a scientist, so I observe my environment). It is top notched. Well tuck in. It was then I saw they use a deep navy blue color band belt. I had always thought their belts was black in colour. At that point, I felt like having one of their uniform on. They were so attractive to behold. But on another thought, I began to wonder why such contrast in comparison to officers from my home and work based station. I can’t just begin to give pictures to this. I feel being an officer in Abuja is high life men…You need to see their sparkling, smooth and smooching skins. The Olopaa here, dey enjoy oo. Even my host was wearing a baby skin look. The coolness of the work environment is enticing. To be police officer go sweet you, again maybe it is Abuja effect which I can’t explain. Life is spectacularly good for these people. I used to think being an officer is like entering into suffering and miserable life, but now I do have a second thought. If it is this good in Abuja, I wonder what is happening with my state(s) and other states I have seen police officers. I was impressed with the building environment cleanliness which is good too and secured, maybe because it is Abuja. Something I also notice again were officers wearing mixed green police outfits. For example, there is black or green beret on either green top/trouser or black top/green trouser with green/black boots and red beret on green top/trouser. I had always thought the green colour is for the Nigeria Army. I see I am novice about our force and certainly many others as well. In fact I am statistically proclaiming that more than half of Nigeria population knows nothing about their police force except for the negative mirage that connote with them, bribery and other corrupt practices. The corruption song have clouded our minds that most of us never gave them a second thought. Their line of duty kind of work comes with high risk and yet most people get to condemn them because of the few bad eggs in the system. There is police brutality, corruption, bribery etc. all around the world. And certainly our cops are no exception but then for the sake of those truly serving this nation, we need to commend and pray for them. The little I have come to know about them now is pretty encouraging. You may ask, what little do I know and how did I get to know what I know? Well the answer to that is on their website. I least expected that NPF to have a website and social media platforms until I saw it on the office wall of my host’s secretary. So on returning back to my hotel, I took some hours to browse through their site and social media, I am pretty impressed. I can only hope that they continue to improve their usage and leverage it to further promote the good image of the force. Personally, right now, there is need for more to be done in terms of publicity awareness of what is obtainable from the force. In a population of about 7 million people, they have on the average of 20, 000 plus followers. There is work to be done to make their presence felt. Some of the tools to achieve this is already in use. With some creativity, the force can begin to sensitize the public more about who they are and what they do etc. The stories about exploits, human gestures should also be published on their social media pages. With certain support and marketing strategies, it would reach a large number of people and contribute to the promotion of the partnership between police officers and citizens. check it out. Citizens would also be interested in stories about what the daily work of police officers looks like with interesting videos. Social media has proven to be a useful means of communication in many crisis situations, and I hope that our police will use all the benefits of network communication. If someone was to ask me about our police force, I know little. In fact I know more about UK police than our Naija police which shouldn’t be. But I think they are already doing something about their public image but need more momentum (free consultation dey just in case). Surprisingly, NPF do have an app in google playstore. It was intriguing to see such. Hopefully I shall be trying it out soon. Optimistically, as I put this opinion to rest, a research collaboration together with the police force will be interesting, where we are shall be investigating “unseen individual” escaping any form of physical security checks at the headquarter or any other police stations and these “unseen individual” are all over the places. As my duty and skill requires as a “Scientific Police”, I investigate cases of “unseen individual”. It will be interesting to know what is present in the built environment of the NPF and quietly policing along with them.
Have fun with the interactive Naija map depicting NPC policing zones across the country.
Share your views!!! Catch me on T
God bless our Naija police force.

Much Ado About Data

Recently, I have been thrilled about the idea of open data. It like a goldmine of endless wealth and possibilities. The crusaders of these movement have really done humanity a favor. I am a stronger believer that many of the answers we seek today are locked up and inaccessible for many curious minds out there to access, in bringing forth the wealth of knowledge trapped into bondage behind closed doors. For whatever the motive is for locking information, there’s still remain a potential benefits that can serve mankind and help our struggling society to make smart decision for any socio-economic development rotten away.

It gave me pleasure to discover that our Naija (Nigeria) has joined the train of open data awareness, though it seems the fever is yet to catch on but it is a good beginning provided that we have adequate planning towards effective and efficient data collection, management and storage. And I stumbled upon some open data currently made available by Edo state. I must commend the people behind the Edo state’s open data. I hope it continues. Like I was saying, I downloaded some data on secondary schools and waste collection points in the state and not to bore you with too much talk (click) this is how I dealt with those data.

Some quick instructions: Zoom in and out to have a close up on the data, you can click on the various points for cool effects, you can make selection based on the info you want about the schools just below the map, and lastly if you choose to view the waste points, hover on the points and see what happens.
Share your comments and thoughts


Data Source:Edo State Open Data

Words on Hepatitis B part2

Those who get the HBV at a very tender age have a higher tendency of developing a chronic infection compared to those who contact it later in life. Genotypes of the HBV also have their various mode of higher risk of contraction, some being from an infected mother and others from sexual encounters. Some of the genotypes have a greater tendency of leading to infection than the others but although the nature of the host’s body system and environmental surrounding’s also play a huge role.

Other factors which play a role in infection of the host include a protein known as HBeAg which is derived at the core protein and also the presence of some subviiral particles. Some genotypes have derived ways to increase the size of this protein those increasing their strength of creating an infection. Genotype G is an exception to the expression of this protein and this makes it loose its ability to cause a chronic infection but when it is present with another genotype to provide the HBeAg, chronic infection may occur.

The HBV has mutated in such a way that there is no longer expression of HBeAg but instead viagra generique livraison rapide there is rapid multiplication so as to make up for those virus that are lost due to the hosts immune system.

Other mutations also occur when the HBV cannot undergo the mutation that changes the form of its stop codon, this new mutation helps these virus particles to suppress HBeAg expression. This type of mutation seems to be genotype specific also and also leads to increased replication of viral particles.
The envelope for HBV is not seen as a necessity i.e. it does not reduce its pathogenicity but in the case of a naked viral particle, a protein coat can be made for it from another genome in the same cell. Since protein envelope production is not important, the pathway for its production for it can be shut down in order for the HBV to survive.

In most genome, there has been cases of some missing/deleted genes and are also genotype specific, some of these deletions also prove to cause more chronic infection and some just lead to the lack of non-expression of some other proteins. These deletions has in no way showed any form of it holding back the activities of the HBV.
Splicing or editing of HBV RNA has been shown to create more variation among the different HBV.This splicing has also been proven to increase the strength of infection caused due to it causing over expression of core proteins and also increased DNA replication.

HBV mutants may avoid the immune system and its antibodies by single amino acids substitute but this not mean that they will be able to escape the immune system. They may just be able to hide from it for a little while. The ability for these viruses to mutate to avoid the immune system by various mechanism has made most new vaccines inactive.These vaccines have to be used for a long time and most time these viral particles are able to develop a resistance thee drug.

In conclusion, one of the major reasons why HBV is still very much active in the human population is as a result of direct maternal transmission. The fact that these viruses are able to mutate at such a fast rate in other to avoid the immune system of the host cell and also to shut down certain proteins to increase replication rate just so to maintain their population is also a very big reason they still thrive. These viral particles are also just the starting bodies to many other liver related infections.

Words on Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus is a precursor to several other illness such as liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and from their names you notice that they all have to do with the liver.

The virus which is one of the smallest DNA virus has a protein coat which encloses a double stranded deoxyribose nucleic acid. When the virus infects the hepatocytes which are the main cells of the parenchymal tissue of the liver, its DNA particle changes to a form which enables transcription of the viruses mRNAs with the aid of the hosts RNA polymerase. This eventually leads to Virus replication and the production of its protein coat.
The transformed form of the nucleic acid which is the covalently closed circular DNA form has several characteristics such as its ability to have every of its nucleotide code for something and this makes its structure both compact and efficient. The protein coat of the new viral particles are produced during translation of AUG codons which are the start codons. The virus possess 7 viral proteins which needs several transcripts to enable their expression.

As mentioned earlier the HBV is compact and its compactness can lead to it having multiple effects on naturally occurring mutation from a single gene and this leads to difficulty in our efforts to figure out its pathogenic pathway.

The HBV genome is able to generate 4 polyadenylated RNAs through the aid of 4 promoters found on different position on the genome These 4 RNAs are transcribed by 2 enhancer elements and also by a transactivator known as HBx which is capable of causing multiple effects from a single gene. This transactivator is needed for HBV infection to occur and can also result in cancer of the liver.

The previous RNAs are transported to the cytoplasm of the host cell so that it can lead to protein translation and also replication of DNA.During this process, hepatitis B antigen is secreted and this protein is required for infection to be established. The pregenomic RNA which is the shorter version of the 3.5kb polyadenylated RNA produced and responsible for expression of core proteins is the only HBV transcript that is needed for genome replication.

Infection of a HBV does not directly lead to liver cirrhosis and HCC but however repeated actions of destruction and regeneration of the liver cells as a result of trying to flush out HBV may result to these diseases.
There are 8 genotypes of the HBV which are further dived into several subgenotypes with the exception of 3 genotypes, with each having little variation from the next. These genotypes of HBV are also restricted to certain regions of the world. Some genotypes such as genotype g which is popular among homosexual men are known to interact with several other diseases which can also result in more diseases originating. Although most of the genotypes of HBV are geographically specific, 1 host may possess more than 1 type of genotype of HBV (although 1 dominates over the other) as a result of increased migration. In cases of more than 1 HBV genotype infecting the same host, there may be formation of recombinant virus as a result of interaction between both viral genome.

In recent times, an additional 2 genotypes were discovered, although they had similarities with other genotypes, they possessed variations that could not be left unnoticed. The new genotype I is geographically specific to Southern China and also has a relationship with the development of HCC. Genotype J was isolated from an 88 year old man believed to have been infected during his stay at a south eastern Asian island. Genotype J is believed to be a recombinant of two HBV from different species.
To be continue…