December 16, 2019
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

DOST Continues Battle vs. Dengue, Says Herbal Supplement Out August 12

Update: August, 11, 2019, 2:42 p.m.

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña during the press conference on August 10 at Robinsons Place Tacloban, Marasbaras, of the DOST VIII (part of the Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW), revealed the Herbanext herbal supplement for dengue infection will be released on August 12. He earlier said it would be out middle of August. 

Meanwhile, de la Peña said he also has to check with Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), which funds research on drugs from Philippine plants as part of the DOST Tuklas Lunas program.

SDN — Science and Digital News asked Dr. Montoya through SMS, but he has not replied yet as of publication time. (SDN)

This update also includes the title to reflect the supposed release date of the herbal supplement. The dengue menace in the country has risen to a national epidemic as various areas continue to suffer increased infection of the dreaded virus.

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By EDD K. USMAN, Twitter @edd1819, Instagram @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News

PERHAPS, not many Filipinos know it.

The truth is the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been in the thick of the fight against the dengue menace in the country.

Through the DOST and/or some of its agencies, it had already come up with a few ways to either control the population of the dengue vector Aedes aegypti mosquito through the Ovicidal/Larvicidal (OL) Trap in 2011, or for the early diagnosis of the dengue virus using the Biotek-M Dengue Aqua Kit.

Created through the assistance of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), Biotek-M won a gold medal award at the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions in April 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The DOST through its Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) since a few years back has also been heavy in the research for the control of Aedes mosquito through its Sterile Insect Technique (SIT),

PNRI’s SIT research being conducted by the institute’s scientists/entomologists was first funded by the National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) in its early stages. The research continues.

Now, the government through the Department of Health (DOH) is on a national dengue epidemic mode as infections of the dreaded virus continues to rise.

In relation with the mounting reported cases of dengue infections across the country, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña batted for the use of the S&T department’s innovation/product(s) to help in addressing the nationwide problem.

“Dengue research and development has always been one of the priority research areas as stated in the Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) led by the DOST.

“Through the DOST- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), we have funded a number of research projects and programs that are consistent with the multi-prong approach in the control of Dengue that address different aspects such as diagnosis and treatment.

“In the area of diagnosis, we funded the development of a rapid diagnostic test (Biotek-M) for dengue that can diagnose the disease as early as two to three days after the onset of illness.  This will be very helpful in making the early diagnosis of dengue so that prompt management can be done to prevent complications,” the DOST chief said.

DOST SFTP Ceajay Valerio 2

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña. (Photo: Ceajay Valerio, DOST-S&T Information Institute)

De la Peña is confident that with the use of Biotek-M Dengue Detection Kit, overcrowding in hospitals will be lessened through early detection as patients suspected to have the viral infection do not have to be confined longer than necessary if the test returns negative.

He said the diagnostic kit is already available in some public hospitals.

“We have asked the technology developer to make it available to the affected areas of dengue in cooperation with our regional offices and the Department of Health.”

De la Peña further revealed his department is also funding the clinical trials for the evaluation of a possible herbal medicine for dengue that has multiple mechanisms of action: anti-viral activity against the dengue virus, can elevate the platelet levels which are seen in the complicated cases of dengue responsible for bleeding and reduction of plasma leakage which contributes to the lowering of blood pressure among the dengue patients.

He added the Phase I clinical trial will just start and completion up to Phase 3 clinical trials is required for certification and approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To date there is no available therapeutic medicine for dengue anywhere else in the world, he noted.

“We have also supported the development of herbal supplements that can help patients affected with dengue. The herbal supplements that include single and combination herbal preparations are already ready for submission to the FDA.  These herbs are derived from folkloric use and have passed safety and toxicity studies.

“We have  requested the technology developers to make this available at the soonest time possible after satisfying all the regulatory requirements. We are also coordinating with the FDA regarding this,” de la Peña said.

Here’s a Question and Answer with the DOST secretary on dengue herbal supplement:

1. Is the supplement in a tablet or capsule form?

The product is in capsule form, packed at 30 capsules per bottle which is good for around 5 days of consumption. It contains 324 mg of the herbal extract standardized for selected flavonoids.

2. What will be the recommended dosage?

The recommended dosage is 1-2 capsules at 3x per day, with the higher dosage for adults.
This will be consumed continuously for 5 days. The contents of the capsule can also be
dissolved in water if desired.

3. What is the estimated price range?

The SRP is P15/capsule.

Aedes tawa tawa on GreenHearts

Image of Euphorbia hirta (“tawa-tawa”) plant believed to have anti-dengue properties courtesy of GreenHearts.

4. What is Herbanext’s current product capacity for the supplement?

For the month of August, the target production is at least 3,000 bottles. Starting September, the target is at least 5,000 bottles every month. Depending on the supply of the raw material, Herbanext's  extraction facility currently can process up to a maximum of 1,500 kilos of fresh herbs per week, which will produce around 12,000 bottles per month.

5. Where can we access the herbal supplement?

The product will be initially sold at the Daily Apple stores in Quezon City, Bacolod, Cebu,
Davao, and General Santos. It will also be available through the net. It will be made
available through selected drugstore chains and local pharmacies starting September. The herbal supplement is registered as a generic product under the Daily Apple brand of Herbanext.

It will be available in the market by mid-August at latest. Since it is a herbal supplement, it can possibly benefit patients with dengue but should not be used for cure or therapeutic purposes. The standard measures should still be done for patients diagnosed with dengue either in a hospital or out-patient setting as determined by trained health care workers.

De la Peña hastened to add the Herbanext herbal supplement which was produced from “tawa-tawa” (scientific name: Euphorbia hirta) is not a drug or a medicine. (SDN)

Editor’s Note: this article was inadvertently erased; fortunately, it was retrieved.

Featured image of an Aedes aegypti dengue-carrier mosquito through Wikipedia. The image replaced the earlier image in this article.

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