Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology Introduces 6 Virus and Vaccine-focused R&D Projects

Jun 2021

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has approved the conduct of six flagship R&D projects that will serve as foundation studies of the proposed Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines. The DOST has allocated PHP 284 million (USD 5.83 million) for the R&D programs.

The 6 R&D studies identified by the DOST are:

  1. The isolation and purification of the Philippines common viruses with medical importance and pandemic potential for Antigen-Antibody Studies – this would focus on isolating pure cultures of coronaviruses, and avian viruses, from civet cats, and chickens.
  2. Combination Therapy: Lytic Bacteriophages and Plant Extracts against Multidrug-resistant bacteria – this will isolate and characterize bacteriophages from the environment and screen them for their bactericidal and antibiofilm activities against multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria.
  3. Detection of Food and Water-borne Bacterial Pathogens using Phage-based Diagnostics – optical density measurements will be investigated as a simple and inexpensive method for the detection and quantification of bacteriophages at different levels of sensitivity and time efficiency.
  4. The De Novo Synthesis of a Non-Infective Zika Virus-like Particles: Initial Development of a Template for Zika-related Diagnostics – the study would aim to produce non-infective, virus-like particles (VLPs) or pseudoviruses of Zika Virus (ZikV), via de novo synthesis.
  5. Antigenic Peptides as Potential Candidates for COVID-19 Vaccines; and
  6. Study on the Development of Antibody Test Kits for COVID-19 Using Enzyme Immuno-assay.

The first 4 R&D projects will be implemented by the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute, while leading the vaccine-focused research are Saint Luke’s Medical Center for the 5th R&D project and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) of the Department of Health (DOH) for the 6th R&D project.

The scarcity of Covid-19 testing kits and shortage in vaccine supplies were the main drivers for the proposed establishment of the Virology and Vaccine Institute which is still currently being deliberated by Congress.

(Source: Philippine News Agency)