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DOST to launch breakthrough cure for dengue

Ranier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
DOST to launch breakthrough cure for dengue
peaking at a virtual forum with medical research scholars of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the DOST and a local medical startup company are preparing to launch the breakthrough plant-based medicine within the year.
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MANILA, Philippines — The first-ever definitive cure for dengue fever will be launched soon, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced yesterday.

Speaking at a virtual forum with medical research scholars of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Dela Peña said the DOST and a local medical startup company are preparing to launch the breakthrough plant-based medicine within the year.

“This is the first medicine that will be coming out for dengue,” said the secretary, citing its development by Pharmalytics Corp., a spinoff medical-pharmaceutical startup company coming out of the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, Cavite.

The DOST-PCHRD had provided funding support to the Phase 2 clinical trials conducted by Pharmalytics for their dengue medicine that is said to be developed from extracts of three herbal plants.

The DLSU-D-Pharmalytics Corp., R&D is led by Dr. Josefina Alvero, Pharmalytics president and chief operating officer.

Alvero’s team of health researchers from the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas’ De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute formulated a “cocktail” of three endemic plants that has proved to be effective in curing dengue.

While it has been relegated as a global health scourge as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, dengue continues to afflict tens of thousands of Filipinos every year.

Earlier, the Department of Health said that in 2020, the country had 83,335 reported dengue cases of which 324 had died. This was 81 percent lower than the 437,563 cases and 1,689 fatalities logged in 2019 when a national dengue epidemic was declared.

From January to April this year, there were 21,478 reported cases of the mosquito-borne disease, a 56-percent drop from the cases recorded in the same period last year.

The DOST, meanwhile, is going to set up a biosafety laboratory needed for vaccine and virology research and development projects while it prepares for the expected congressional approval of the establishment of the proposed Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines.

Dela Peña said the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute will soon start a project to establish a Biosafety “Level 2+” facility.

“This will be the first significant step of DOST in attaining the goal of addressing the country’s efforts towards developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics,” he said.

The establishment of the BSL center will be pursued even while the DOST waits for the passage of a law creating the proposed VIP.

The BSL+2 facility will also be a boon for private sector efforts to start up local vaccine manufacturing capability in the country.

FORTUNATO DELA PEñA

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