JAPOHR Project to eliminate rabies with novel techniques

Principal Investigators Dr. Beatriz P. Quiambao from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and Dr. Akira Nishizono from Oita University will spearhead a five-year research study entitled, “The Project for the establishment of the One Health prevention and treatment network model for the elimination of rabies in the Philippines,” along with Japanese and Philippine institutional partners.

“This Japan & Philippines One Health Rabies Project or JAPOHR in short, will develop novel diagnostic methods for animal and human rabies diagnosis. It also hopes to address current challenges being faced in rabies elimination,” said Dr. Quiambao.

According to Dr. Quiambao, current data on Philippine human rabies cases show continuous fluctuation, as the cases by the third quarter of 2018 already outnumbered the cases of the previous year. What’s more alarming is that 30-35% of these cases occur in children ages 15 years old and below. Aside from human rabies, animal bite cases continue to rise with 1.3M cases recorded in 2017.

On the other hand, Dr. Akira Nishizono explained the three outputs the project aims to achieve.

1. The establishment of the novel diagnostic techniques (including the use of the dog’s muzzle hair or whiskers instead of the brain, as an alternative specimen) that will make rabies diagnosis safe, easy, quick, and cost-effective.
2. The formation of a health network system where cloud data sharing would become available for rabies program implementers on a real-time basis for efficient surveillance.
3. The use of Rapid Neutralizing Antibody Detection Test (RAPINA) for the serosurveillance system and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) management which would avoid overtreatment of patients with animal bites.

Ultimately, the project envisions a treatment and prevention network with proactive engagement between doctors and veterinarians coupled with innovative diagnostic techniques in its quest to eliminate rabies.

The study is conducted under Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) with support from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office