The Proteomics and Venomics (ProVe) Group of the Department of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Pharmacy were tapped for the UST spider venom research program. ProVe’s research program received a 9 million-peso grant from CHED through the grants-in-aid program.

The CHED-funded research, entitled UST’s “Spider Venom Project,” is headed by Asst. Prof. Myla R. Santiago, M.Sc. of the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy.  The said research is in collaboration with Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) and the City University of New York (CUNY).  ProVe group is also composed of Prof. Librado A. Santigao, PhD; Asst. Prof. Angelica Bernadette C. Crisostomo, MBioEd; Ms. Gladys I. Bathan, MSc; Mr. Leonardo A. Guevarra Jr., MSc; Asst. Prof. Gardee T. Peña, MSc; Asst. Prof. Ma. Irene D. Liu, MSc, of the Department of Biochemistry;  Prof. Olga Nuñeza, PhD from MSU-IIT; Research Associates Mr. Mark Kevin P. Devanadera and Ms. Anna Beatriz R. Mayor, RCh; and Prof. Sebastien Poget, PhD from The City University of New York.

According to the proposal’s initial abstract, “the research program can lead to positive impact on the lives of the general public through (1) generation of sustainable development strategies to identify pharmacologic diversity and potential of spider venoms (2) improvement of transdisciplinary understanding of the importance of Philippine spiders in conserving the environmental richness of Philippines biodiversity (3) identify platforms for policy guidelines in terms of protection of pharmacological innovations, spider biodiversity and conservation. The program will also be able to assist undergrad/post grad students in finishing their thesis/dissertations and even high school students in local communities where spider collection has been conducted. Experts from collaborating institutions will also serve as facilitators in the development of advanced courses in biochemistry, biotechnology and venomics among their respective institutions. Also, research outputs including publications and possible patents may be generated from spider bioactive peptides with novel therapeutic leads.”

Last September 6, 2017, the team was joined by Dr. Custer C. Deocaris, the Chief of Research of the Commission on Higher Education, for a legislative consultation with Congressman Ferjenel G. Biron of the fourth district of Iloilo. This consultation was done in line with the Congressional Budget Hearing of CHEd. In the consultation, Congressman Biron consulted the UST scientists on how to better support the innovation and intellectual property protection systems with regard to Philippine natural resources.

Congressman Biron cited the case of erythromycin.  The blockbuster antibiotic was discovered in 1952 by Eli Lilly, a US-based global pharmaceutical industry from bacteria isolated in Iloilo, his home province.  The company filed for patent protection and erythromycin was launched commercially in 1952 under the brand name Ilosone, after the Philippine region of Iloilo.

The meeting concluded with Congressman Biron promising to make a manifestation in the Congressional Plenary to lobby for greater research budget for higher education.