DOST develops web-based monitoring of AH1N1

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Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) together with Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, National Institutes of Health (IMBB-NIH), University of the Philippines Manila is developing a web-based interactive genome library for the surveillance, detection, characterization and drug resistance monitoring of AH1N1 virus infection in the Philippines to help prevent future flu pandemics.

Project leader Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana explained that users will be able to see the number of AH1N1 cases in particular places in the country and view the AH1N1 gene sequences in the Philippines in the online genome library.

The online genome library will also allow field health workers who are doing actual sample collections to input clinical data online through the digitized the surveillance form of Department of Health (DOH).  This will allow real time monitoring of AH1N1 cases in the country.

Health workers must create a password-protected account that must pass authentication.  Administrators will approve all information before publication to ensure fidelity of data.

The online genome library will also allow experts to provide input and assistance to local researchers and health workers to deal with the pandemic virus.  “All the work from the bench will make it to the field where it will make a difference,” Dr. Salvana said.

It may also be used by international health organizations to better map the trends of A H1N1 worldwide.

The general public can also view portions of the site as guest

Areas affected by AH1N1 in the Philippines in 2009 (Black: Areas with deaths, Brown: confirmed community outbreak, Red:Confirmed cases, Yellow: Suspected cases – by Wikipedia)

users.

Also part of the project is generating new sequencing data on AH1N1 in the Philippines. The team was able to sequence 59 samples, 52 of which are now published in GenBank, a global genetic sequence database.

DNA sequencing is important in monitoring drug resistant strains in the country to make us better equipped in dealing with AH1N1.  It will also enable the country to get a bigger chance to be represented in the global vaccine development.

The experts from IMBB-NIH-UP Manila can sequence much faster by extracting the RNA directly from the samples instead of the old route of culturing the sample before sequencing.  For now, they are sequencing archive samples.  They will collaborate with Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to do real time samples in the future.

The project is part of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on Health program of PCHRD.  ICT on health is one of the priority programs of PCHRD.  Other projects under ICT on health are the National Telehealth Program, Philippine Health Research Registry, and Natural Products Research Database.  ###

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