September 26, 2018 - Swinburne University of Technology (SUT) of Melbourne, Australia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) for scientific and technological collaboration specifically in the fields of biomedical devices and digital health. Representing the Philippines in the signing ceremony was PCHRD Executive Director, Dr. Jaime Montoya, while representing the SUT was Dr. Janet Hiller, Dean of Health Sciences.
The MoU aims to develop cooperation and collaboration between the two institutions to accelerate development in S&T through collaborative activities and contribute to the attainment of the national health goals.
Under the MOU, SUT and DOST-PCHRD will work together on joint researches, capacity building such as research training, scholarships, exchange programs, and curricular development, and knowledge and expertise sharing.
Dr. Janet Hiller, addressing on this occasion, stressed that the collaboration reflects a strong commitment of using the power of data science and digital technology to improve the health of the communities. Given the challenge in size and demographics of Australia and the Philippines, the collaboration hopes to find solutions aiming to providing equitable, safe, and effective health services across very dispersed populations.
Likewise, DOST-PCHRD Executive Director, Dr. Montoya assured SUT representatives of the Council’s full support in this collaboration.
The SUT delegation also visited higher education institutes, University of Santo Tomas, University of the Philippines, and De La Salle University to discuss their initiatives on data science and biomedical devices innovation offered by their institution and met with the Department of Health for possible collaboration on health technology assessment.
Every year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) goes around the different regions to showcase notable outputs from research and development. In the recently concluded Caraga Regional Science and Technology Week in Butuan on 5-8 September, 2018, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña presented 15 breakthrough technologies from the different DOST agencies.
Three out of the 15 R&D programs and projects cited by the Secretary were supported and/or implemented by the of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development are as follows:
Standardized and Clinically-tested Herbal Medicine
Tuklas Lunas Program
One of the health research and development priorities under the Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) and the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) 2017-2022, Tuklas Lunas or the Philippine Drug Discovery and Development Program aims to develop standardized herbal drugs from the country’s marine and terrestrial resources.Successful outputs of the program include the commercialization of lagundi tablets for cough and sambong as anti-urolithasis or for treating kidney stones. The program also aims to establish Tuklas Lunas Development Centers (TLDCs), which will serve as screening and extraction centers in Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).
An animal vaccine developed by the University of the Philippines Manila to protect housepets and livestock from the Leptospira bacteria transmitted by rats. LeptoVax aims to address and mitigate outbreaks of leptospirosis in the country. While trials are still not fully complete, the developers are looking forward to test the vaccine to larger animals like carabaos and dogs, and also be able to eventually produce a vaccine that can be used in humans.
A total knee replacement system developed for Asian and Filipino body structure, the axis knee system provides a more affordable knee replacement system which uses a novel instrument to ensure correct knee alignment. Manufactured locally by Orthopaedic International Inc., the patented instrument and surgical technique allows general orthopedic surgeons to perform the procedure accurately even without the use of x-rays.
Developed by the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila, the Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit is a confirmatory test for dengue that allows faster results while remaining affordable compared to other Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. The development of Biotek-M also resulted in the University of the Philippines’ first spin-off company, Manila HealthTek Inc., which now manufactures and distributes the devices commercially.
Aside from three PCHRD-initiated and supported breakthroughs, the Secretary also presented biofertilizers and plant growth enhancers, protein rich copra meal, agriculture and aquaculture productivity technologies, native livestock purelines technology, educational tools, supplementary foods and ready-to-eat foods for disaster victims, water treatment materials, among others.
In closing, the Secretary highlighted the significance of technology transfer and adoption of these technologies in the country. He encouraged different sectors in the region to work together in the spirit of cooperation for collective prosperity.
The Caraga Regional Science and Technology Week is part of the National Science Technology Week Celebrations which aims to bring the Department’s technologies, programs, and services to the regions. The event also featured project visits including the Eel Farm in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte, Hillsview and VPO Enterprises in Trento and Rosario, Agusal del Sur.
For more information on other upcoming RSTW celebrations, please visit http://nstw.dost.gov.ph/
Know the common blood diseases and nutrients for healthy blood
Blood plays important functions for the body. Composed of plasma, white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, blood circulates through our body and transports oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removes waste from the cells.
As we celebrate Blood Diseases Month by virtue of the Proclamation No. 1833 declared by the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2009, here are some common blood diseases and ways to keep your blood healthy:
Common blood diseases
Anemia, the most common blood disorder in the general population, is a condition in which the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein inside the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
A person with anemia experiences shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, headache, chest pain, dizziness, pale skin, and insomnia.
In treating anemia, the primary aim is to increase the number of healthy red blood cells in the body. Depending on the type of anemia, common treatment for anemic persons includes iron supplements intake, change of diet, blood transfusions, and chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant.
Hemophilia is a genetic disorder which affects the blood's ability to clot due to low levels of blood-clotting proteins.
Signs and symptoms of hemophilia varies on the levels of clotting factor. People with mild deficiency may bleed after a surgery or trauma, while in severe cases, spontaneous bleeding occurs.
There is no cure yet for this condition. The only treatment available for hemophilia is replacement therapy wherein, concentrates of clotting factor VIII (for hemophilia A) and IX (for hemophilia B) are slowly dripped or injected into the vein. This helps in replacing the defective clotting factor of the blood.
Leukemia is a type of cancer which affects the blood and bone marrow. The cancer happens when the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells overpower the healthy blood cells and continue to increase and occupy more space, making it hard for healthy white blood cells to function normally.
Leukemia comes with two different types- acute and chronic. Acute leukemia grows rapidly while chronic leukemia grows slowly.
The causes of leukemia are still unknown. However, there are some factors that increases the risk of developing the cancer such as exposure to radiation and chemicals like benzene, cigarette smoking, hair dyes, family history of the same case, and genetic disorders such as down syndrome. Early signs of this condition include weight loss, fevers or chills, frequent infections, bone and joint pain, bleeding and bruising problem, tiredness, and weight and appetite loss.
Treatment for this condition depends on the type of leukemia and the person's health treatment capability. Types of treatment involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immune therapy, stem cell therapy, and surgery.
Nutrients for healthy blood
Changing your lifestyle especially your diet could help keep your blood on track and healthy. Foods rich in iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin B6, vitamin A, and vitamin B-9 are essential in order for your blood to function well.
Iron is an important nutrient that increases the production of red blood cells. Food rich in iron are red meat, organ meat, beans, cereals, tofu, dark chocolate, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage.
Vitamin A is essential in normal development of stem cells into red blood cells. It is also needed for the immune system to function normally and actively. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, tuna fish, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and lettuce.
Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin which supports glucose and protein metabolism. It also supports the production of hemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Vitamin B6 is essential in nurturing and maintaining blood health. This vitamin can be found in chicken, bananas, tomatoes, whole grains, nuts, green beans, liver, and fish.
Vitamin B-9 or folic acidhelps in protein metabolism and RNA/DNA production and repair. It is vital in making red blood cells. Best sources of folate include nuts, dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce, and edible greens such as asparagus, beans, and breads.
Vitamin B12 keeps nerve tissues healthy and sustain blood cell production. Animal products such as fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy products like milk and cheese naturally contains vitamin B-12
Blood diseases could be very dangerous especially if not treated properly and immediately. Celebrating Blood Diseases Month serves as an avenue to raise people’s awareness and understanding of blood-related diseases.
In support with its advocacy of disseminating health research information, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development invites medical and research institutions and practitioners, universities, laboratories, and other partner institutions to publish their researches and other health-related information in Health Research and Development Information Network (HERDIN), an online database that enables online publishing, exchanging, and dissemination of quality health information in the Philippines.
For more information HERDIN and other blood-related researches, visit HERDIN’s website at http://www.herdin.ph/
Misdiagnosis of parasitic infections remains a challenge in the Philippines, particularly in remote areas where medical technologists (MTs) may lack necessary expertise for accurate diagnosis of less common parasitic infections. This is further complicated by the lack of a formal referral system where MTs can verify their diagnosis. Misdiagnosis results in inappropriate treatment of patients, thereby contributing to continuing morbidity and infection transmission. Accurate and timely diagnosis of parasitic infections is essential for appropriate treatment, as well as for generation of accurate data to support advocacy and policy formulation for the prevention and control of parasitic infections.
To address this challenge, a team from the College of Public Health and the National Telehealth Center in the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, led by Dr. Vicente Belizario, Jr., has developed and is testing the Medical Teleparasitology (MTP) system through the grant provided by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).
MTP uses information and communications technology (ICT) to provide a referral system that links MTs in peripheral laboratories to a pool of expert diagnostic parasitologists. Through the MTP, the MTs registered in the system can send the digital image of the parasite and their initial diagnosis which are then verified by expert diagnostic parasitologists. Digital images of the parasites are stored in the image bank which can be accessed by MTs for future reference. MTs in the peripheral laboratories also send monthly reports of parasitic infections which they have diagnosed. These monthly reports are stored in the MTP database which can be used to map the distribution of parasitic infections in the participating regions. These, in turn, may help in formulation or enhancement of policy for prevention and control of parasitic infections. Registered users also have access to the online Parasitology Forum, where users can discuss topics relevant to medical parasitology. MTP is able to capacitate MTs in their critical role of providing accurate and timely diagnosis of parasitic infections.
The MTP system is currently implemented in the Cordillera, Zamboanga, and Davao Regions through collaboration with the Department of Health Regional Offices and other partners, such as Saint Louis University-School of Medicine.
“Learning does not end after graduation. It is a continuous journey that only those with receptive minds and humble hearts can embark on.” A practical advice from Dr. Arturo Dela Pena, Chief Executive Officer and President of St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) to the graduates of the 20th Commencement Exercises of St. Luke’s College of Medicine on 15 July 2018.
Four scholars namely Alexis Labrador, John Paul Llido, Neil Jade Palude, and Jerica Isabel Reyes earned their Master’s degree in Molecular Medicine under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resources Development Program (ASTHRDP). ASTHRDP is a scholarship program offered by DOST-Science Education Institute, in partnership with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).
Proving their excellence and commitment to science, the four scholars maintained good academic standing throughout their stay in the program. The scholars are very well versed in the studies of the latest biotechnologies such as cell-based therapies, gene-therapies, targeted therapies, biomarker technologies, molecular diagnostic, pharmacogenomics, and personalized medicine.
MS Molecular Medicine Program is a joint initiative of the DOST, through PCHRD, and SLCM which aims to produce adept laboratory researchers capable of pioneering innovative health researches as basis for future health policies. Indeed, through the program, the scholars were able to upgrade their skills for the application of molecular medicine in the clinical setting. More specifically, the students are able to obtain firm foundation in the bio medical sciences and relevant emerging technologies and receive training in a broad spectrum of the application of molecular medicine.
Every year, PCHRD search for potential scholars with great mind and vision in the hopes that their talent reinforced by education and training will benefit the health research and development agenda of the country particularly in molecular medicine. Now more than ever, we need more researchers and explorers that will find solutions to the health needs of the Filipinos through research and innovation.
For more information on DOST-PCHRD funded scholarships, visit www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph