DOST backs research to develop vaccine | Inquirer News
ST. LUKE’S BIOTECHNOLOGY GROUP DOING 3-YEAR STUDY

DOST backs research to develop vaccine

/ 04:48 AM December 13, 2021

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña

MANILA, Philippines — The development of a COVID-19 vaccine under a Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines program is in the works, according to the institute’s mother agency, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said in a weekly report on Friday that the DOST Philippine Council for Health Research and Development was supporting a three-year study by the research and biotechnology group of St. Luke’s Medical Center to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and “potentially bring the country to becoming more vaccine independent.”

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“The study aims to establish a ‘proof of concept’ by identifying antigenic peptides located at specific proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 [virus] that are capable of inducing immune responses for the development of [a] potential vaccine for COVID-19 and its variants,” De la Peña said.

He said the team working on the study selected viral-like particles as a vaccine platform because of their close resemblance to viruses, although these particles are noninfectious.

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While most vaccines were designed to activate antibodies, the research will focus on targeting humoral and cell-mediated arms of the adaptive immunity for “stronger and long-lasting” immune response, De la Peña said.

‘Premier institute’

“It is hoped that this will be the start of a vigorous and progressive vaccine development program in the country,” he added.

On July 28, the House of Representatives approved on third reading House Bill No. 9559 or the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines Act.

Under the measure, that attached agency being proposed at that time for the DOST will function as the “premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all kinds of viruses and viral diseases in plants, animals and humans.”

It will also be a venue for scientists, research organizations and other groups here and abroad to work together in studying viruses that are significant in agriculture and other sectors and industries.

In November, a DOST “Balik Scientist” said during a webinar on health research and development for COVID-19 that the Philippines was the only country in Asia that was not producing vaccines.

“That is something we need to work on in preparation for another pandemic, or for the time that we really have to supply people with vaccines,” said Dr. Annabelle Villalobos, a consultant of Johnson & Johnson Biopharmaceuticals.

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TAGS: COVID-19 vaccine development, DOST, Fortunato de la Peña, Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines
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