ASEAN Biodiversity Center hails UPLB for discovery of bacterial species in Mt. Mayon containing potential cure for colorectal cancer

Published August 12, 2021, 6:59 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity on Thursday congratulated the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) and its team of researchers following their successful isolation of 30 bacterial species from Mt. Mayon’s volcanic soils that were found to have potential antibiotic and anti-colorectal cancer properties.

ASEAN Biodiversity Centre

“Solutions indeed can be found in nature,” the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity said in a statement, noting that the bacterial isolates may be turned into potentially useful antibiotics and anti-cancer drugs.

Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity described the discovery as a “breakthrough” for the Philippines and the ASEAN considering that colorectal cancers (CRCs) are currently the third leading site of malignancy in the Philippines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has earlier declared antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 global threats to public health.

The ASEAN biodiversity official recalled that back in the early 1950s, the Philippines was also the source of a useful antibiotic, the ilosone, which was found in the soils around Iloilo City and surrounding areas. The drug later became commercially successful worldwide.

With the Philippines being a Party to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing, it is oriented to enhance the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being as well as to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of its genetic resources.

Through further research and development, Lim said the innovation could be poised to have potential commercial and non-commercial benefits that will accrue to the people living in the vicinity of Mayon Volcano and the rest of the country.

Known for its perfect shape and majestic beauty, Mt. Mayon is also rich in biodiversity, serving as home to 156 floral species, and 104 species of land vertebrates. Its valuable role as a habitat for endemic and indigenous species is among Mt. Mayon’s merits in its inclusion in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Centre said the discovery also underscores the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into health while showing the need to prioritize the continuing assessment and monitoring of our soil biodiversity along the 2020-2030 International Initiative For The Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity of the Convention on Biological Diversity.