Student researchers from the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) won the first prize in the first ever Philippine Undergraduate Research Awards on eHealth (PureHealth Awards) of the National Telehealth Center (NTHC) last July 3, 2013 at Intramuros, Manila.

UPM’s winning research entitled, “MobiQuick PH: Nutritional Assessment and Surveillance Tool for Children Aged 0-71 Months” aimed to use a web based application as an automated version of Operation Timbang, a surveillance system implemented by the National Nutrition Council (NCC) which monitors levels of malnutrition in zero to seven year old children in the country.

With MobiQuick PH, barangay health workers (BHWs) can input data in just two working days in an average of 3.7 hours per day. Whereas with paper documents, the consolidation of records usually lasts around three months for BHWs to accomplish an entire data set.

Other than its inherent swiftness, the web application is also capable of generating a Geographic Information System (GIS) based on the data it collects. This way, stakeholders can map the cases of malnutrion and pinpoint areas of high or least concern. As well, it detects and automatically deletes erroneous data, ensuring accuracy in the data being entered into the system.

Researchers reported that current feedback from users were very positive. On interviews, health workers voiced their approval of the program, describing that it is fast, user-friendly and easy to learn.

The aim of the web-based application is to ease the burden of work among health workers implementing Operation Timbang.

 
Dumb cane, a common ornamental plant, was found to have active ingredients that may help in cancer treatment. Photo by Wikipedia.

A notorious ornamental plant, commonly known as dumb cane, has been found to be useful in controlling the spread of cancer cells in the body.

A study conducted by students from Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City discovered that dumb cane plant, scientifically known as Dieffencachia maculata, contains active ingredients that cause antiangiogenesis, a process that inhibits the growth and development of new blood vessels in the body.

Antiangiogenesis controls the spread of tumour cells in the body by disabling the transport of nutrients toward the cancerous cells. Normally, tumour starts from a single cell and divides to make more cancer cells. The growth of malignant cells will depend on the availability of specific nutrients being transported by blood vessels.

In laboratory experiments, researchers separately analyzed the effects of dumb cane’s essential oil, leaf extracts, mineral water and Simvastatin (an anti-cholesterol drug with anti-angiogenic effects) to wild duck embryos. Results showed that embryos exposed to dumb cane’s essential oil and leaf extracts had lower blood vessel branching points than the embryos in the mineral water solution. The antiangiogenic properties of both dumb cane’s essential oil and leaf extracts were also comparable to Simvastatin.

Toxicity tests, meanwhile, revealed that dumb cane’s essential oil and leaf extracts are tolerable to humans. Using human lymphocytes, researchers determined the actual toxicity of dumb cane’s essential oil and leaf extracts on human cell. Though dumb cane contains glycoside, an organic poisonous compound, researchers explained that cell viability after 24 hours of incubation is still high.

With the findings, researchers claimed that dumb cane’s ability to prevent blood vessel growth and development can be possibly used in the formulation of anti-cancer drug to help prevent the spread of cancer cells in the human body. They recommended further studies to isolate the specific components of dumb cane responsible for antiangiogenic activity and determine the appropriate concentrations for pharmaceutical purposes.

 
7th PNHRS Week

On August 7-9, 2013, the 7th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week will be held at the Plaza del Norte Hotel and Convention Center, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte with the theme “People at the Center of Health and Health Research.

Hosted by the Region 1 Health Research and Development Consortium, the PNHRS Week celebration will provide a platform for the different stakeholders in health R&D to interact, to learn from each other, to share information and experiences, to voice their concerns, to contribute research-based solutions to health problems, among other things.

Expected to grace the three-day celebration were Provincial Governor Maria Imelda Josefa R. Marcos, Secretary Mario G. Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Secretary Enrique T. Ona of the Department of Health (DOH).

Around 500 participants from all the 17 regional health research consortia are expected to participate in the event. For more information, please contact PNHRS secretariat at telephone numbers: (02) 8377534 or (02) 8377537 or visit PNHRS website at http://www.healthresearch.ph/.

PNHRS Week is held annually on the second week of August by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1309 signed in 2007.

Good news for those who want to study abroad! The ASEAN Foundation (AF) and Chulabhorn Graduate Institute have signed an agreement to develop highly qualified human resources in the area of science and technology within ASEAN member countries through the Chulabhorn Graduate Institute – ASEAN Foundation Post-Graduate Scholarship program in Science and Technology.

Five scholarships for ASEAN Nationals are offered for the following Master’s degree programs:

  1. Applied Biological Sciences: Environmental Health;
  2. Environmental Toxicology;
  3. Chemical Biology

The application for the CGI-AF Scholarship Program is due on 30 October 2013.

For more information on admission procedure, eligibility criteria, and application form, please contact:

The Chulabhorn Graduate Institute

54 Kamphangphet 6 Road, Laksi, Bangkok 10210 Thailand

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.cgi.ac.th

or

ASEAN Foundation

J1. Sam Ratulangi No. 2 Menteng, Jakarta – 10350

INDONESIA

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.aseanfoundation.org

 

The recent deaths of three government officials due to untested stem cell treatments has bought to light the lack of government oversight on human health research. The numerous stories on potential cures and a vaccine for dengue bring a lot of hope, but also concerns over the safety of these treatments.
 
The establishment of guidelines and government oversight failsafes on research safety and ethical human health research has finally come to fruition with the passage of Republic Act 10532 or The Philippine National Health Research System Act of 2013 (PNHRS) last June 1.

To help address the issues and challenges facing the Philippine research industry, the first public consultation for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of PNHRS was held ON June 25  in Davao City.

Stakeholders from different sectors of the academe, the health industry, the public and private sector, different government agencies, local government units and the media were invited to help point out any flaws, inconsistencies or inadequacies in the draft IRR.
 
Two more public consultations will be held, tomorrow in Iloilo and next in Manila, before a final draft of the IRR would be submitted.