Following the success brought by the lagundi and sambong medicinal products developed under the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants (NIRPROMP) of the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), the Tuklas Lunas Program is established to pursue drug discovery and development by leveraging on the country's very own biodiversity.

Given that most medicines available in the country are developed abroad and are distributed by multinational companies, these products are usually offered at higher prices which in turn becomes a barrier for Filipinos to access treatment. To develop drugs which are sourced locally makes them more accessible and affordable to communities.  The Tuklas Lunas program aims to harness the potential of the country’s own resources under two tracks: the herbal and drug tracks. The program also aims to help strengthen the capacities of both researchers and the local industry in drug discovery and development.

In the Tuklas Lunas program, the Council partners with institutions in the regions to study the region’s biodiversity potential for drug research. The institutions’ diverse outputs are attributed to the resources peculiar and abundant to each region.

To date, the program has supported and partnered with 27 institutions nationwide for the implementation of projects addressing various stages of the drug discovery and development. Some of the most advanced projects in terms of development include the clinical trial of fixed-dose combination of three plants for management of dengue-associated symptoms by Pharmalytics Inc. and De La Salle University Health Sciences Institute; 26 plants on ongoing formulation and standardization for gout, inflammation, hypertension and blood-glucose lowering by the University of the Philippines – Manila, Ateneo de Manila University, Pascual Lab, Inc., Pharmalytics, Inc. and Herbanext Lab, Inc.; and development of functional food and herbal drug candidates from edible mushrooms and ferns by the Central Luzon State University and Central Mindanao University.



Aside from drug discovery and development, the DOST-PCHRD supports researches and projects that address the country’s most pressing health concerns outlined in the National Unified Health Research Agenda and the Harmonized National Unified Health Research Agenda (HNRDA) from conceptualization to technology transfer.

 

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) looks at two ways to fast-track its technology transfer program, thus, spawn the growth of start-up companies by innovators in health technologies and the health industry, in general. One is shared investment in research by industry and the Council, like the Axis Knee System for knee replacement, in which the DOST-PCHRD co-invested with Orthopaedic International, Inc. This proved to be the quickest route to the market of a product from research.

Second, with its biomedical devices program, in particular the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (IBEHT) at De La Salle University- Laguna Campus, the plan is to build a biomedical device region within the Calabarzon industrial complex in which IBEHT serves as a research and technology business incubator (TBI) hub for start-up companies. Similar set-up for other research programs in other regions are also planned.

On the other hand, social innovations in health generated by innovators working in communities, a regular inventory, documentation and exchange of best practices will be worked out with the regional consortia so that these innovations can be shared with those in similar situations. The Council’s Dr. Gelia Castillo Award for Social Innovation in Health will serve as the vehicle for this program.

On a continuing basis, the DOST-PCHRD supports capacity building program for researchers, project managers and technology transfer staff of higher education institutions and RDIs in the areas of technology assessment, intellectual property policy development and protection, licensing assistance, establishment of technology transfer processes and patent landscape report generation.

The DOST-PCHRD is a pioneer in technology transfer and commercialization. From the work of the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants, lagundi as cough remedy and sambong for kidney stones were licensed to pharmaceutical companies in the 90s.

As well, the first start-up company out of a DOST-PCHRD-supported project is the Manila HealthTek Inc., led by Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) – home to the award-winning Biotek M dengue aqua kit. After years of clinical trials, the kit is now available in the market and is already used by some hospitals in the country at a much lower cost with sensitivity and specificity comparable to the standard test. Following this success, commercial scale prototype and testing is now underway for Biotek M Typhi Kit for typhoid fever, Biotek M Lepto Kit for leptospirosis, and Biotek M Schisto Kit for schistosomiasis.





President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conferred the prestigious Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award to Biotek M lead Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) for his contributions to health and medical biotechnology, especially in diagnostics during the awards rites on 10 September 2019 in Malacañang.
 
Dr. Destura, with support from the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) led the development of the award-winning Biotek M dengue aqua kit for a faster, more affordable and accessible diagnosis for dengue. As the kit is capable of detecting the infection within an hour from extraction, it is seen to ultimately lessen the number of hospital admittance and lower health expenses, especially for the marginalized sectors of the community.
 
The annual Search for Outstanding Government Workers forms part of the Civil Service Commission’s Honor Awards Program (HAP). The award aims to recognize civil servants who have shown exemplary performance and have contributed significantly in achieving our national goals.

Seven out of 35 researchers were recognized with the “Most Ready to Publish Paper” during the 16th Medical Writing Workshop for Young Researchers on 13-14 August 2019 at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.

Held in conjunction with the 13th Philippine National Health Research System Week, the award was given to participants whose research papers are deemed by the facilitators as well-written, organized, and have the greatest potential for publishing in peer reviewed journals.

Winners from this batch are as follows: Dr. Maria Bettina Quiambao from Philippine General Hospital, Ms. Katherine Kyra Alonday from the University of Santo Tomas, Dr. Lara Gabrielle Lim from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Ms. Nicole Bolo from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Mr. Noriel Calaguas and Mr. John Mark De Vera from Holy Angel University, and Mr. Huemer Uy from Cebu Normal University.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, in partnership with the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE) and Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME), conducts the writing workshop twice every year to help young researchers in health sciences acquire practical knowledge and writing skills in developing scientific articles for publications in scholarly peer-reviewed journals.