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Dr. Doralyn S. Dalisay showing a grain of sand viewed under a scanning electron microscope where the microorganisms attached themselves.
A research funded by the National Research Council of the Philippines has recently discovered special types of microorganism from sediments collected from the ocean floor which have demonstrated an ability to kill aggressive disease-causing pathogens or “superbugs” which have become resistant to modern antibiotics.

“Superbugs” is a new medical terminology that refers to bacteria which have developed genes that are resistant to different antibiotics; the infections caused by these bacteria are harder to treat.

Dr. Doralyn S. Dalisay, together with her research team, has put up a “microbial library” for cultivation of these marine sediment-derived microorganisms and a “extract library” of these isolates for antimicrobial testings. Extracts from the library showed strong inhibitory activities against a panel of test pathogenic drug-resistant bacteria and fungi.

“The findings are quite promising and if more microorganisms like these will be discovered and tested, this [endeavor] will place the Philippines in the global frontiers of medical and therapeutic research,” said Dr. Dalisay, a researcher of NRCP who is leading the study, during the launching of the research program entitled “Marine Sediment-Derived Actinobacteria: New Vista for Natural Products Discovery in the Philippines” last March 29, 2017 in Iloilo City.  The launch was attended by University of San Agustin President Fr. Frederick C. Comendador, Vice President for Academic Affairs Fr. Manuel M. Vergara, Associate Vice President for Research Dr. Jonel P. Saludes, NRCP Executive Director Marieta Bañez Sumagaysay, and staff from the NRCP-Research Development and Management Division.  

Dr. Dalisay is a research scientist at the University of San Agustin in Iloilo.

“The highly biodiverse marine microorganisms thriving in the sediments surrounding the Philippine archipelago has not been investigated well with regard to their potential for developing products that are of interest in biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences”, Dr. Dalisay added.

Thus, the first and second phase of this research program are focused on isolating marine sediment-derived microorganisms, determine their antimicrobial activities and biogeographical distribution in the Philippine archipelago.  The third phase will focus on evaluating their anticancer activities, studying their biodiversity, and performing genomic analysis to establish relationships between metabolite biosynthesis potential, taxonomy, and the habitats and locations from which the isolates originate. These research efforts will prioritize isolates for future investigations and provide a road map for guiding future natural products discovery efforts.

NRCP, being the country’s premier agency for supporting and nurturing basic research, has undergone strategic innovations, one of which is aligning its research priorities to the most pressing needs of the country and to give Filipinos better health and life through medical research.

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