DOST, UP work for water safety

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PCHRD LogoThe Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) and University of the Philippines Manila-National Institutes of Health (NIH) are working together to ensure water safety through a project that aims to detect water-borne parasites in household and recreational water using microarray technology.

The DOST-funded project will contribute to efforts in preventing diarrhea—one of the top ten diseases of children in the Philippines.

Dr. Raul V. Destura, director of Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of UP Manila-NIH stressed the importance of preventing diarrhea in children because of its long term effects.

He cited a study of 26 children in Brazil that had diarrhea when they were two years old and below and who were followed up years later which showed that growth shortfalls, fitness impairment, cognitive impairment, and low school performance are the lasting disability effects of early childhood diarrhea.

Dr. Destura explained that through the project, water samples from drinking water sources and 52 recreational facilities in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces will be tested for protozoan parasites using microarray technology that uses a newly designed “Philwater chip.” Protozoan parasites, along with some types of bacteria and viruses can cause diarrhea.

Microarray, a tool for analyzing gene expression that consists of a small membrane or glass slide containing samples of many genes arranged in a regular pattern is one of recent technological advances in biomedical research.

According to Dr. Destura, microarray technology can detect multiple protozoan species all at the same time.  This is particularly important because multiple protozoan species are usually present in a single environment or clinical sample.  He added that the current water testing technology covers only coliform bacteria detection that cannot detect low number of protozoan parasites in drinking water or recreational water system (swimming pools). He noted that only three to five parasite eggs are needed to start successful colonization of a host and cause diarrhea.

Data and technology that can be generated from this project will help authorities formulate appropriate public health policy, important regulations, and advisories on how to manage water sources in particular areas.

Detection of water-borne parasites using microarray technology is just one of the projects funded by PCHRD, a council of DOST which is mandated to formulate policies, plans, programs, project, and strategies for health science and technology development; program and allocate government and external funds for research and development; monitor research and development projects; and generate external funds.###

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