Seventy years after its historic and global contribution, Iloilo is again poised to be the source of the next super antibiotic discovery. Dr. Doralyn S. Dalisay of the Center for Chemical Biology and Biotechnology (C2B2) at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City has found marine microbes with the potential of becoming the basic ingredient for a super antibiotic.
This research of Dalisay, who is under the Balik Scientist program of Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is the country’s centerpiece presentation at the recently concluded Iloilo International Conference on Advance Natural Products Technologies (I2CANProTech).
“We told the international science community how the Philippines, particularly the University of San Agustin in Iloilo, is now prepared for an international quality drug discovery program,” noted Dr. Jonel P. Saludes, the university’s vice president for research and global relations.
It was in 2016 when Dalisay led an expedition team in Gigantes Islands, a rising beach destination in Carles town of northern Iloilo province. Under the seabed, samples of marine sediments harvested were found to contain beneficial bacteria that can potentially treat strong infections.
Saludes, who is also a Balik Scientist, explained to Manila Bulletin Lifestyle that Dalisay’s work has passed the crucial stage. While antibiotic discovery program usually runs for 10 years, Saludes said that a potential must be found within the first three years of scientific research to be able to continue.
If indeed the marine sediment from Gigantes becomes an antibiotic, then it will replicate the 1949 feat of the discovery of Erythromycin or the registered trademark of Ilosone, which pays homage to its origins—the soil of Iloilo City.
The university is also exploring other drug discovery and wellness programs at its Center for Natural Drug Discovery and Development (CND3) and C2B2, which are both funded by the DOST.
Fr. Frederick C. Comendador, university president, added that the end goal is utilizing the country’s raw materials to find solutions for medical and health problems.
Meanwhile, the university partnered with Academia Sinica of Taiwan for I2CANProTech. The conference brought together scientists from Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. They discussed the discovery of natural products for medicine, wellness, and nutrition.