Medicinal potentials of mushroom, 26 other plants, under study


    Edible mushrooms in pharmaceutical formulations may soon be in your friendly neighborhood drugstore.

    Scientists at the Central Luzon State University and Central Mindanao University are looking at the potentials of edible mushrooms for anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive and anti-diabetes properties.

    It is among the most advanced projects in terms of development funded by the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants program of the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

    Under PCHRD’s Tuklas Lunas program, the clinical trial of fixed-dose combination of three plants for management of dengue associated symptoms is being conducted by Pharmalytics

    Inc. and De La Salle University Health Sciences Institute.
    Some 26 plants are under study for formulation and standardization as medicines for gout, inflammation, hypertension and lowering blood glucose. It is being conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, Ateneo de Manila University, Pascual Lab Inc., Pharmalytics Inc. and Herbanext Lab Inc.

    PCHRD supports researches and projects that address the country’s most pressing health concerns from conceptualization to technology transfer.

    It has done this before with lagundi as a cough remedy and sambong as a medicine for kidney stones. Both medicines were licensed to pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s.

    PCHRD is looking at two ways to fast-track its technology transfer program to encourage the growth of start-up companies by innovators in health technologies.

    One is shared investment in research by industry such as the Axis Knee System for knee replacement co-invested with Orthopaedic International Inc. This proved to be the quickest route to the market of a product from research.

    With its biomedical devices program, the Institute of B1iomedical Engineering and Health Technologies at De La Salle University-Laguna Campus, PCHRD is promoting a biomedical device industry within the Calabarzon industrial complex to serve as a research and technology business incubator hub for start-up companies.

    Dr. Raul Destura of the National Institutes of Health and a research team in UP Manila developed the Biotek M dengue detection kit. After years of clinical trials, the kit is now available in the market and is being used by some hospitals in the country at a much lower cost, with sensitivity and specificity comparable to the standard tests.

    Following this success, commercial scale prototype and testing is underway for Biotek M Typhi Kit for typhoid fever, Biotek M Lepto Kit for leptospirosis and Biotek M Schisto Kit for schistosomiasis.

    Similar set-ups for other research programs in other regions are also planned.

    A regular inventory, documentation and exchange of best practices will be worked out with the regional consortia so that medical and health technology innovations can be shared.

    PCHRD supports capacity building program for researchers, project managers and technology transfer in higher education institutions and regional research and development institutes in the areas of technology assessment, intellectual property policy development and protection, licensing assistance, establishment of technology transfer processes and patent landscape report generation.

    Following the success brought by the lagundi and sambong medicinal products developed under PCHRD’s National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants, the Tuklas Lunas Program continues to pursue drug discovery and development by leveraging on the country’s very own biodiversity.

    Given that most medicines available in the country are developed abroad and are distributed by multinational companies, these products are usually offered at higher prices which in turn becomes a barrier for Filipinos to access treatment.

    To develop drugs which are sourced locally makes them more accessible and affordable to communities.

    The Tuklas Lunas program aims to harness the potential of the country’s own resources under two tracks: the herbal and drug tracks. The program also aims to help strengthen the capacities of both researchers and the local industry in drug discovery and development.

    In the Tuklas Lunas program, the PCHRD partners with institutions in the regions to study the region’s biodiversity potential for drug research. The institutions’ diverse outputs are attributed to the resources peculiar and abundant to each region.

    The Tuklas Lunas program has supported and partnered with 27 institutions nationwide for the implementation of projects addressing various stages of the drug discovery and development.