AghamBayan features outcomes of PCHRD-supported projects


Twelve notable outcomes from projects supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) were featured at AghamBayan Technology and Innovations Festival on 20 June 2018 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City.

In one of the parallel sessions, products of PCHRD and University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) research collaboration were presented. Proponents were given the chance to explain and showcase their developed technologies and products to the industry sector.  Among the featured outputs were Newborn Screening, Newborn Hearing Screening, Sambong Tablet, Lab in a Mug, Hemoxyther, Cardio Pharmacogenomics, Lagundi, LeptoVax, Ornathex, RxBox, Rare Diseases Act, and Sin Tax Law.

Dr. Carmencita Padilla, UPM Chancellor, explained that newborn screening has been considered as one of the most successful public health intervention programs in the Philippines with the enactment of Republic Act 9288 or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004. In 1996, Dr. Padilla led a group to research on newborn screening which results were used as basis in the creation of the law. The Newborn screening aims to early detect genetic, metabolic, infectious conditions in newborn babies in order to provide the necessary timely interventions. To date, more than 10 million babies and was able to save 120 000 babies from mental retardation or death.

Other laudable policies presented were the Republic Act No. 9709 or the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009, Republic Act No. 10747 or the Rare Disease Act and the Republic Act No. 10351 or Sin Tax Law. The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act provides for mandatory hearing tests for all Filipino newborns, the Rare Disease Act that guarantees improved access of patients diagnosed with rare diseases to comprehensive medical care, and the Sin Tax Law helps reduce smoking prevalence in the country and augment government funds for healthcare financing and delivery.

Herbal medicines developed by Dr. Nelia P. Cortes-Maramba from the Institute of Herbal Medicine were also featured. Sambong Tablet, an herbal medicine produced from Sambong leaf, is used to treat edema and urinary tract infections or stone. The cost of the tablet is 50 percent less compared with the use of medical and surgical alternatives. Lagundi capsule, on the other hand, can treat cough and asthma.

In addition, herbal medicines called Hemoxyther and Ornathex were introduced. According to developer of Hemoxyther, Dr. Erna Arollado of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the supplement is used to treat anemia without the usual side effects of commercially available iron supplements. Ornathex, on the other hand, is an anti-pain and anti-inflammatory herbal medicine derived from a plant indigenous in the Philippines called Calamus ornatus locally known as rattan.

The team of Dr. Nina G. Gloriani from the Department of Medical Microbiology presented their innovation called LeptoVax, a leptospirosis vaccine. The vaccine targets the disease-causing bacteria that are appropriate to the Philippine setting, with potential application to neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

An affordable rapid test kit for accurate detection of dengue within an hour, the Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit was also showcased.  Part of the “Lab-in-a-Mug Project,” Dr. Raul Destura of the National Institutes of Health declared that the invention won a gold medal at the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland.

Another featured innovation is the technology developed by Dr. Portia Fernandez-Marcelo of the National Telehealth Center and Dr. Luis Sison from the Electrical and Engineering Deparment of UP Diliman called RxBox. The RxBox is a telemedicine device capable of capturing medical signals through built-in medical sensors, storing data in an electronic medical record, and transmitting health information via internet to a clinical specialist in the Philippine General Hospital for expert advice.

Also highlighted was the Pharmacogenetics, a research program headed by Dr. Rody Sy and Dr. Eva Cutiongco – de la Paz which focused on the study of inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways that affect individual responses to drugs. The UP-PGH Cardiovascular Genetics Research Group screen known biomarkers related to cardiovascular diseases and response to treatment in the country.

Encouraging more scientist and researchers to innovate on health, PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime Montoya said, “We need your help in producing more research and creating more innovation for our country.”