Inauguration of BSL-2 lab part of preparation for VIP — DOST

Published October 21, 2021, 6:16 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) inaugurated Thursday, Oct. 21, its Biosafety Level 2+ (BSL-2) Laboratory which will enable country’s researchers to work on different virology projects — from plant and animal to human virology in preparation for the upcoming establishment of the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

Biosafety Level 2+ (BSL-2) Laboratory Tour. (Screengrab from DOST-ITDI Facebook)

DOST Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña led the inauguration of the laboratory, which is established at the Environment and Biotechnology Division of the agency’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI).

He expressed hope that the measure seeking the creation of the VIP will be passed and enacted into law soon. The VIP bill seeks to institutionalize and build the VIP facilities in New Clark City in Tarlac.

The DOST chief said while waiting for the passage of the bill, the agency is giving researchers a safe place where they can jumpstart the initial research and development (R&D) projects for the VIP.

He said the six DOST-ITDI’s R&D projects set to be implemented as part of the VIP program were the following:

-Isolation and Purification of Philippine Common Viruses with Medical Importance and Pandemic Potential for Antigen-Antibody Studies;

-Combination Therapy: Lytic Bacteriophages and Plant Extracts against Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria;

-Detection of Food and Water-borne Bacterial Pathogens using Phage-based Diagnostics;

-De novo Synthesis of a non-Infective Zika Pseudovirus as Reference for Diagnostics and Vaccines Development;

-Development of Antibody Test Kits for COVID-19 using Enzyme Immunoassay; and

-Antigenic Peptides as Potential Candidates for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Vaccine Development

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development (R&D) Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara said the inauguration the facility is just a part of our preparation for the VIP.

“It may not be as big as the facilities we are waiting to be established in New Clark City, but this is the start. We need not wait for the VIP complex to be constructed before conducting the initial projects of the VIP,” she said.

With the BSL-2 Laboratory, the researchers can work on virology projects safely and securely while also ensuring the safety and security of the community and the environment.

The biological material used in a BSL-2 laboratory consists of bacteria, viruses, and organisms associated with human diseases,

“Our researchers will use this facility to characterize viruses that may be transmitted from animals to humans, use bacteria-specific infecting viruses to create new therapeutic and diagnostic tools. They will also design a non-infective pseudo virus using molecular tools, develop an affordable, rapid, and point-of-need detection kit for the ASF, and use genomic tools to create a diagnostic protocol for an agricultural virus,” Guevara said.

“We will see more virology research projects and outputs from our group in the next few years as they utilize this new facility while waiting for the VIP complex in New Clark City.”

Guevara said the new facility will serve as a venue for the researchers to enhance their skills, widen their knowledge, and be adept in the different aspects of virology research.

“As we start the operation of this new facility, may it also be the start of our country becoming more prepared, and more equipped in combating problems that may be solved through virology research.”

“Because as always, we hope that this new facility will enable us to further our goal of making virology science for the people.”