Science

Adnane Remmal : "Our Products do not replace antibiotics: they improve them"

Adnane Remmal, lauréat d'un prix d'Inventeur Européen de l'Année en 2017 ©AdnaneRemmal

"This Moroccan scientist has found a natural alternative to antibiotics", published several European and African media a year ago. The reason: Adnane Remmal had just won one of the European Inventor of the Year awards for a formula of "boosted" antibiotics with essential oils. A year later, he is giving an update on his discovery.

Afriscitech: You won an European Inventor of the Year Award in 2017 for your essential oil antibiotic. Will it be available soon?

Adnane Remmal: The drug should be on the Moroccan market in a few months. When patents were recognized, I was able to convince a Moroccan pharmaceutical company, one of the largest in the country to produce it. They put the money into galenic development, clinical trials, and so on. We are very happy because I am convinced that it is a drug that will relieve patients and doctors.

Why is it so important improve the efficacy of antibiotics?

Today, in human medicine, there are many pluri-resistant bacteria. These are bacteria that have become "accustomed" to antibiotics. They can detect and destroy them before they can act. One of the risks with pluridrug resistant bacteria is the spread in society. And the risk is much greater in developing countries than in the richer ones. In the latter, we know how to identify and contain these bacteria. Either we cure the patient or we lose him, but we only lose one. While in developing countries, physicians do not have the tools to detect them, patients go to hospitals, and the bacteria spreads. As a result, for one dead in France or in the United States, there are a thousand in developing countries.

How does this medicine work?

We have demonstrated by mass spectrography techniques that when we associate an antibiotic with a molecule extracted from an essential oil, we have a molecular interaction. Several antibiotic molecules are associated around the oil molecule, the "booster". And this forms a new entity called a "booster complex". This complex acts on resistant bacteria. Because it is a complex, it crosses the membrane more easily and, once inside the cell, it is not recognized, it camouflages the antibiotic molecules. When the latter are alone, they are recognized by bacteria and destroyed by enzymes. When they are included in a complex, they are not recognized. They can therefore go to the site and act effectively.

Does it work for all antibiotics?

When I talk about boosting antibiotics, I am always talking about families of antibiotics. I can boost such or such family with a molecule which comes from the clove for example. One of the combinations we have implemented is the improvement of amoxicillin with eucalyptol essential oil against the pluri-resistant bacterium Escherichia coli involved in urinary tract infections. The idea is that each family of antibiotics will be boosted by a molecule that comes from a different plant.

Isn't there a risk that resistance to these complexes will form?

Other scientists are working on essential oils, and to this day, we have not found any resistance. Bacteria do not detect essential oils, that is all the advantage besides.

So your technique doesn't replace antibiotics?

No. This family of products for human medicine is not an alternative, it is an improvement. But this does not mean that medicines based solely on essential oils cannot be made. We are working on this idea for animals. I am in contact with farmers in Morocco, and we use, for example, products based on essential oils and clay that we pour into the drinking water. They diffuse through the air in stables. We are seeing a decrease in disease with these products.

Why not turn them into large-scale drugs?

For the simple reason that essential oils are natural substances that cannot be patented. And so big pharmaceutical companies are not going to spend millions of dollars to conduct clinical trials on non-patentable substances. It should work, only, there is no will to do clinical trials on it since it is expensive. And to get a return on investment, there must be a patent or intellectual property right. As long as it is not possible to have either, there has never been clinical research. That's why we patented a technique with this drug, not the oil itself.

Interview by Anthony Audureau

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