Two Thomasian molecular biologists brought home the first prize (Tuklas Award) during the recently concluded 2018 National Invention Contest and Exhibits held last August 14-16, 2018 at Le Pavillion Metropolitan Park in Pasay City.

Prof. Mary Beth B. Maningas, PhD of the Department of Biological Sciences and the Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences, together with her former M.Sc. student, Dr. Benedict Maralit (currently a Research Scientist with the Philippine Genome Center at UP Diliman), won the Tulkas Award (Outstanding Invention) during the said contest. Dr. Maralit is a graduate of B.Sc. Biology (2008) program of the College of Science and M.Sc. Biological Sciences (2011) program of the Graduate School.

The award was given for their entry “LAMP Primers for White Spot Syndrome Virus”, a patented technology which the two scientists developed as an alternative to the conventional and more expensive means of detecting the viral shrimp pathogen which causes massive losses to shrimp farmers in many parts of the world, especially in the Philippines.

According to the description of the invention, the invention is a set of nucleic acids that, when used in loop-mediated isothermal application (LAMP) of DNA, will detect the presence of white spot virus (WSV). The primers consist of outer forward and reverse primers, and inner forward and reverse primers. With the Philippines as its focus for the isolates, the invention can be used in a low-cost and rapid manner, with results ready in an hour.

This event was organized by the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI) of the Department of Science and Technology. Drs. Maningas and Maralit received PhP 300,000.00, a gold medal from the World Intellectual Property Organization, and a Plaque from the International Federation of Inventor’s Association. The invention was one of the many significant outputs of a research grant awarded to Dr. Maningas by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic and Natural Resources Research Council of the Department of Science and Technology.