USC’s mosquito research lab fights against dengue

Dengue illness is a global dilemma that is endemic in the Philippines. According to the World Health Organization, the number of dengue cases has increased eight-fold in the last two decades with up to 400 million individuals at risk per year. About 75% of the cases occurred in the Western Pacific Region. 

Accordingly, the Philippines is one of the top countries with the highest dengue cases and deaths. Thousands of children and even adults get infected every rainy season. This is even more alarming especially in poor rural areas with limited medical facilities. 

As a response to this malady, the Mosquito Research Laboratory (MRL) of the University of San Carlos has been established by Prof. Frances E. Edillo, Ph.D. This measure provides timely and relevant information on mosquito research in the Philippines and, at the same time, contributes to the global efforts in fighting the health and economic burdens imposed by dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Clockwise (from left): Professor Frances E. Edillo, Ph.D. (seated, center) heads the MRL group, which has an insectary room for rearing mosquito samples, and a chamber room for biological assays using growth chambers and microscopy examinations.

Majority of the work includes field collection of mosquito samples, processing of molecular data of mosquitoes, associated pathogens and bacteria to understand higher level phenomena. Results are applied to issues of population genetics, vector biology, public health related to mosquito-borne diseases, and possible policies to be shared with the Department of Health.

Researchers in action performing (from left) field collection, DNA extraction at the molecular biology room, polymerase chain reaction, and computer simulation analysis.

This research is just as timely as it is necessary. “We find possible solutions to mitigate the burden and lessen dengue health risks of Filipinos through mosquito vector control”, said Rhoniel Ryan Ymbong, one of the committed researchers at the MRL.

This is not the first time that the team engaged in worthwhile research. In fact, the USC-MRL team has previously collaborated with world-class institutes such as the Institut Pasteur of Paris, France; the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) and the Marine Science Institute (MSI) of the University of the Philippines–Diliman); Brandeis University, Boston, MA, USA; and Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.

More importantly, the laboratory helps not only the Carolinian community but also other schools on mosquito-related research consultation. For future collaborations, you may contact Prof. Edillo through [email protected] or call the Department of Biology at (+63 32) 230 0100 local 156.

by Syrine Gladys Podadera

This entry was posted in Research and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.