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MBB student’s research is BPI-DOST Best Project of the Year

UPD’s budding scientist(left to right) Lim, Sy, and Yap were honored for their exceptional researches.

(March 27)—A study by Jann Adriel C. Sy, a senior BS Molecular Biology and Biotechnology student at UPD, was recognized by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)-Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Science Awards as Best Project of the Year.

The BPI-DOST Science Awards is a program that encourages promising scientists and researchers  from 10 partner universities across the country to reach higher levels of excellence in specialized fields of science. Six top projects from the partner universities vied for the grand prize of Best Project.

Sy’s study, entitled Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in the 3 ‘UTR of the Pregnane X Receptor Gene and Inter-Individual Variability in Drug Responses,’” seeks to find a genetic basis as to why people who take the same drug may have different reactions; why some experience side effects while others do not have any reaction at all. The study also aims to address the deadly mismatch between drug dosage and a person’s genetic structure.

According to Sy, adverse drug reaction is one of the leading causes of death in the Unites States. However, no such data is available yet for the Philippines.

“One drug does not suit all. Every individual should be given the right dosage that complements with one’s genetic profile,” said Sy. “With this study we can hopefully create a diagnostic kit that will tell us what mutations a patient possesses.  And since we would know by then what these mutations do, a doctor may be able to adjust the dosage as necessary to suit the metabolic profile of that individual. It puts us a step closer toward personalized medicine or drug dosage.”

Sy, an Oblation Scholar and a recipient of 2013 Gawad Chanselor para sa Natatanging Mag-aaral, is a candidate for the university’s top honors of summa cum laude.

Two other student researches were recognized by the BPI-DOST in ceremonies held March 18 at the College of Science (CS) Auditorium: “Improved Photocatalytic Reactor Design: Geometry and Hydrodynamics” by  Angella Rainbow H. Lim and “Production of Anti-Cancer Drug delivery System” by Jean Ramon D. Yap.

Lim’s thesis aimed to present an innovative and environment-friendly solution to treating dirty and contaminated water through the use of ultraviolet light and the semiconductor metal titanium dioxide.

A BS Chemical Engineering student, Lim is also a recipient of the 2013 Gawad Chanselor para sa Natatanging Mag-aaral and a magna cum laude candidate.

According to Lim’s study, existing reactors for water treatment are too large. Small ones, on the other hand, have low efficiency in pollutant removal and conversion. Hence, she chose to develop an improved compact photocatalytic reactor design to address the needs of Filipino communities, especially where reports of contaminated water are present. The reactor is a modular unit, with a capacity of 610 mL, and is easily transported to different regions for field-testing.

Lim however clarifies that suspended solids should still be subjected to pre-treatment since the reactor is used only as a tertiary process for water treatment to help reduce organic chemicals discharged to rivers and the open seas.

“This research project hopes to improve efficiency by addressing the geometry and light capture and is geared towards the future of eco-friendly water treatment solutions for the Filipino people,” Lim said.

Yap’s study is about the production of a targeting system aimed at specific cancer cells such as those found in human breasts and ovaries. It is seen as the future drug delivery system.

Also a BS MBB student, Yap explained that current treatments for cancer diseases, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, usually have harmful side effects such as eventual death due to complications in the body’s immune system.

“This form of targeted drug delivery system ensures that only cancer cells are targeted. Therefore, less drugs are needed to circulate the body and less toxicity and ultimately, (it becomes a ) cheaper alternative to current cancer treatments. At the same time, the drug inside the vesicle can be changed and be suited for the form of cancer being treated,” Yap said.

Yap plans to pursue further studies in the field of cancer biology and is a cum laude candidate.

The Science Awards are given yearly to three exceptional students for higher levels of excellence in specialized fields of science, namely: mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science and biology.  These students come from the awards’ 10 partner universities namely: Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, Saint Louis University, Siliman University, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas, University of the Philippines - Diliman, University of the Philippines - Los Baños and Xavier University.—ACG