December 22, 2022 — The UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology, through the Phil-DIAMOND Project-3, launched on Dec. 19 its newly renovated laboratory at the Gusaling Andres Bonifacio to aid in the development of a biofunctional food product which is anticipated to provide adjunct therapy for metabolic complications experienced by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) patients.
The CAS Biofunctional Food and Microbiology Laboratory, formerly the CAS Microbiology Laboratory, contains high-end scientific and technical equipment procured to support the Phil-DIAMOND’s research work and the department and the students’ other scientific endeavors.
Phil-DIAMOND and Dr. Balolong’s endeavors
Funded by the Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), the Phil-DIAMOND project which stands for Philippine Program for Diagnostic Biomarkers, Disease Modeling, and Nutriceutical Product Development is a three-part national program that focuses on an understanding of HIV-related neurocognitive and metabolic complications.
UP Manila National Institutes of Health (NIH) is assigned to Project 1 which is focused on the identification and interpretation of biomarkers of immune dysfunction in HIV-associated metabolic and neurocognitive complications.
Project 2, spearheaded by UP Diliman, seeks to develop HIV disease models and conducts in vitro investigation of the said health complications.
The UP Manila CAS Department of Biology is tasked with Project 3 on the development of Safe Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB)-based biofunctional health-promoting product as an adjunct intervention for the management of HIV-associated metabolic complications.
Project 3 and the renovation of the CAS laboratory were both initiated by the late Dr. Marilen Balolong, a CAS faculty and scientist who passed away a day before the laboratory's launching event. Balolong served a very pivotal role in this food research and her efforts left a legacy to the scientific community still trying its best to fight the surging HIV infections among Filipinos.
Francis Nicole G. Maga | Published in the UP Manila Healthscape Issue No. 47 (January 2023)