RITM to enhance rabies lab surveillance with new histopathology equipment
RITM and JICA officials during the turnover ceremony of laboratory equipment
for rabies detection.

Gearing towards improving laboratory surveillance system for rabies elimination, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)inaugurated histopathology equipment donated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on Friday, May 10, 2019.

Following the Philippine-Japan cooperation to establish a rabies prevention and treatment network model in 2018, RITM, with support of JICA and the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory 3 (RADDL3), has implemented the “Japan & Philippines One Health Rabies Project or JAPOHR”. A major part of this project is to improve the country’s current laboratory facilities for rabies detection.

One main goal of the project is to diagnose and to confirm rabies in dogs by the use of the routine histopath techniques and immunohistochemistry for rabies,” explained Dr. Sheila Marie Esposo, RITM Histopathology section head.

The donation includes new tissue processor, tissue embedding machine, rotary microtome, and staining machine for histopathological diagnosis and research purposes.

With the new machines that have been donated, we will be able to process more specimens in a shorter amount of time because [RITM] is being required to process a thousand cases in a matter of one and a half year. For us to do that, we must be capacitated with better machines and equipment,” responded Dr. Esposo when asked about the need to replace the Institute’s old machines.

According to the team, techniques that are going to be employed in these new machines are the routine processing techniques which RITM medtechs have already been doing, except for ImmunoHistoChemistry (IHC). IHC is a powerful microscopy-based technique performed on fresh or frozen tissue removed during biopsy on suspected rabid dogs. For this new technique, RITM experts are set to receive a series of training from JICA before proceeding to actual running for the project.

The initial project focuses on rabies diagnosis on dogs, and maybe eventually in humans,” said Dr. Esposo, highlighting that there is a lack of rabies confirmation among human deaths in the Philippines.

The research program is expected to run for five years, as part of its contribution to attain the Philippine’s target of becoming a rabies-free country by 2020.

by JA Quinto, Communication and Engagement Office