Konzo prevention

Preventing Konzo - the wetting method in action Preventing Konzo - the wetting method in action Howard in Mozambique Howard in Mozambique

Konzo is a neurological disease that causes irreversible paralysis of the legs, often in women and young children. It's caused by malnutrition and consumption of high levels of a cyanide compound found in the cassava plant - which happens to be a common staple food in tropical Africa.

Dr Howard Bradbury spent 56 years at ANU – first at Chemistry, and after his retirement in 1988, in Biology, where he focused his research on cassava and the disease konzo. In 2005 he discovered the 'wetting method' that removes the poisonous cyanide compound from cassava flour.

"I think I've had a wonderful career and, amazingly, this particular project has been a retirement project. Right at the end of my career I've had this wonderful opportunity, by the grace of God, to be able to prevent a disease in Africa. It's something which I'd never thought would be possible" said Dr Bradbury.

The ANU community – 805 donors, including staff, students, alumni and friends - raised more than $85,000 during the ANU Giving Day appeal in 2016, to help prevent the disease Konzo.

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This article is one of a set featuring the achievements and memorable occasions in the History of Biology at ANU.