Health Forum highlights genomic studies on cardiovascular diseases

Dr. Rody Sy presents the findings of his research entitled, “Genomic Research on Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, and Dyslipidemia towards the Development of Individualized Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies” at the Health Forum 2017 during the 13th National Biotechnology Week celebration.

With cardiovascular disease (CVDs) still the leading cause of death in Filipinos, this year’s health forum focused on genomic studies on CVDs. Organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) agencies, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the forum showcased the progress on researches that explain how the structure, mapping, function, and evolution of a genes could lead to discoveries in treatment and management of CVDs.

Cardiovascular Diseases, also known as Lifestyle Related Noncommunicable Diseases, are illnesses that affect the heart and blood vessels. According to the Department of Health, CVDs such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases are the cause of more than half of all the deaths every year.

Researchers found an important connection between the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in finding treatment for diseases, thus, genomic studies became a popular field of study.  As explained by researchers, genomic tests, which will analyze the sets of DNA within a single cell, would help discover changes in structure, function, and mapping of the genes and help discover improvements in administering drugs for CVD patients.

To present the progress of their respective genomic research on CVDs, three speakers were invited namely: Dr. Rody Sy, Program Leader of the Cardiovascular Genetics Project of the Philippine Genome Center, Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, Project Leader and Vice Chancellor for Research of University of the Philippines Manila, and Ms. Frances Isabelle Jacalan, Science Research Specialist I, Nutrigenomics Unit of FNRI.

Dr. Sy discussed the importance of putting cardiovascular genetics research into clinical practice.  He explained how certain mutations in the chromosome could affect drug effectiveness and how genetic information could be used to guide drug treatments for CVDs.

Dr. Cutiongco-dela Paz, on the other hand, discussed the interplay of genomic association on treatment, diagnosis, and risk assessment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Highlight of her presentation are the identified biomarkers that would be helpful in creating effective treatment program for patients.

Differences in food preferences and nutrient intake of hypertensive and nonhypertensive adults was the focus of Ms. Jacalan’s presentation.  She explained that there are genomic indicators that affect taste receptors which influence the diet of an individual The result of the study revealed that hypertensive patients had preferences for sweet and salty rather than bitter or sour foods.

The health forum is part of the DOST-PCHRD and FNRI’s annual National Biotechnology Week celebration. This year’s forum, held on 21 November 2017 at the Brentwood Suites, Quezon City, was attended by health sciences students from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippine Women’s University, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation, and Pampanga State Agricultural University.