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PHL Press: Snake Power! (High School Science Project)

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Posted by: W von Papineäu at Thu Dec 1 08:59:34 2005  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papineäu ]  

MANILA BULLETIN (Philippines) 01 December 05 Snake Power! (Madel R. Sabater)
If snakes could kill, they could also heal.
This was proven by three senior high school students from the Quezon City Science High School through an investigatory project they conducted wherein they developed an alternative chemotherapeutic agent using the venom of a sea snake as its main agent.
For its uniqueness, the project developed by young researchers Anna Cabatuando, Kevin Ceña and Clara Obmerga bagged the "Most Outstanding Creative Research" for high school students during the National Invention Contest.
The three researched on the "Isolation of the Leukemic Lymphocytotoxic Compound on YellowLipped Sea Krait Venom," which won for them the first prize in the Sibol (Most Outstanding Creative Research) Awards for the high school level at the recently concluded National Invention Contest at the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) in Pasay City.
Besting 16 other contestants, the three initially observed that a patient who undergoes chemotherapy always suffer hair loss as a side effect.
"We thought it best to find an alternative therapeutic agent because chemotherapeutic agents nowadays are known to be toxic to both leukemic and normal cells,’’ Obmerga explained.
Using the (yellow)lipped sea venom, they looked for an alternative in therapeutic.
‘’We were looking for the so-called "ideal skin cells," Ceña added.
Young as they are, the three realize that though chemotherapy is the most effective mode to eradicate malignancy, it can also be toxic to both normal and malignant cells.
‘’Through our research, we also learned that cytotoxic drugs or the drugs which are intended to cure cancer, have adverse effects on patients receiving long-time therapy including leukemia, neoplasms, cumulative chromosome damage, and other organ damages,’’ Obmerga continued.
This need led them to discover an alternative agent that would minimize or prevent the toxic effect to normal cells.
They then screened and isolated the lymphocytotoxic activity of the sea snake’s venom. After six months and a series of experiments, their research showed that the Schneider venom promotes lyses or "gradual healing" of the leukemic cell while the leukemic lymphocytes "affirmed" the potential of the sea snake venom as an alternative therapeutic agent. Lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell which plays an important role in the body’s defenses. (
So unique and innovative was this study that the three young scientists also bagged the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) gold medal award.
The Sibol award is not the end though for the three. It is all just a beginning, an inspiration to continue what they have started.
‘’We will continue working on our project even after the invention contest. In fact, we are now working on a similar project connected to our winning research piece in the hope that it would eventually become a very helpful agent in treating patients with cancer and leukemia in the future,’’ the three said with much hope.
Big dreams from big minds of young scientists with a big heart to help. This world needs more of them.
Snake Power!


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