The Department of Science and Technology Regional Office V (DOST-V) provided innovation support amounting to Php 5,590,000 for the adoption of Biotek-M™ Dengue Aqua Test in the Bicol Region. Through the assistance of the Department of Health – Center for Health and Development (DOH-CHD) Bicol, the test kits will be deployed to district hospitals/public healthcare centers accessible to communities assisted under the DOST’s Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) program in the region.

Medical technologists from 26 district hospitals/public healthcare centers in Bicol underwent hands-on training on Biotek-M™ Dengue Aqua Test Kit and NAAT Lamp (Lab-in-a-Mug) on 27-30 April 2021 at Sto. Domingo, Albay. This training activity served as a significant component of the kit’s successful deployment to district hospitals/public healthcare centers.

The Biotek-M™ Dengue Aqua Kit is part of the “Lab-in-a-Mug Project” which integrates and miniaturizes all diagnostic kits into isothermal units as small as a mug. It functions as a multi-infectious disease diagnostic device similar to a portable laboratory. The Filipino scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, National Institute of Health, University of the Philippines Manila led by Dr. Raul V. Destura conceptualized and designed the project. Manila HealthTek, Inc., a spinoff company of the project, directs the commercialization of the test kit.

The kit employs the principle of loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) which amplifies DNA/RNA with high specificity, efficiency, and rapidity under isothermal conditions for the detection of dengue infections in serum/plasma samples. LAMP is a simple, rapid, specific, and low-cost nucleic acid amplification method that utilizes 4-6 primers reacting at a single temperature, resulting in high amplification efficiency. Results of a LAMP assay could be obtained in less than an hour and interpreted through visual detection or intercalating.

The Biotek-M dengue aqua test will serve as the second level and confirmatory test for dengue disease among patients that were tested negative in NS1 test, but with clinical symptoms of dengue.

Kathrine Dubla, Field Application Scientist from Manila HealthTek, Inc., facilitated the training that focused on pipetting, viral RNA extraction, and QUASR LAMP Assay methods; analysis of results and evaluation; and clean-up and decontamination. To maintain the minimum health protocols, the training activity observed social distancing with 4-8 participants comprising each batch.

Through the able leadership of Regional Director Rommel R. Serrano, DOST-V will continue to support endeavors for national and regional development, especially on health during this time of pandemic. (LDBBellen/DAPena/MFLMiranda, DOST V)