A group of people in medical masks. From left, a man in a pair of khaki shorts and grey shirt; a long-haired woman in printed dress; a blonde-haired man in blue oxford shirt and a black pair of trousers; a short-haired man in light blue button down and neutral khakis; a man in black medical mask, blue short-sleeved button down and brown trousers; and another man in dark blue shirt and black pair of trousers and red sneakers

By: Geraldine C. Sanchez, DVM, Ph.D

Last 15 June, Dr. Taane Clark, Dr. Julius Hafalla, Dr. Jody Phelan, and Mr. Anton Spadar from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) visited the Philippines for the Newton Agham researcher links workshop with research partners at the Pampanga State Agricultural University (PSAU). 

In the hybrid face-to-face and virtual webinar, Capacity Building: Scientific Talks of Partners from LSHTM, the UK researchers discussed select topics including sequencing of microorganisms, antimicrobial resistance genomics, and the collaboration practices that LSHTM has established in the Philippines.

This is the second of the webinar series that began in 2021 to strengthen the capacity of Filipino researchers in genomic investigations of Bacterial Enteric Diseases (BEDs). Students of veterinary medicine, biology, food technology, educators, researchers, and key personnel who work in food chains participated in the webinar. 

The first webinar took place on 30 September 2021. Dr. Geraldine Sanchez from PSAU introduced the CHED-Newton project on understanding BEDs and antimicrobial resistance among food chains in Pampanga. She also talked about ‘Salmonellosis as a Food-Borne Disease’ and Prof. Colleen Tolentino discussed ‘Food Safety and Proper Food Handling.’

The research aims to identify, culture and characterize the genetic diversity and AMR prevalence of S. enterica in the province of Pampanga, the largest producer of swine and poultry meat in the country.

BEDs are among the most common and economically significant diseases affecting swine and poultry production worldwide, but the full extent of burden in the Philippines is unknown. Salmonellosis, caused by Salmonella spp., is among the most frequently reported BED, and causing compounded health and economic problems. S. enterica is a leading cause of human salmonellosis cases and diarrheal outbreaks in the Philippines, where commercial chicken and pig meat have been identified as crucial food vehicles for transmission.

Understanding the transmission from ‘farm-to-fork’ will assist with infection control. S. enterica is endemic in raw and processed meats from markets in Manila and the predicted increase in consumption of swine and poultry products in the Philippines in the next 10 years to over three million metric tons per annum, increases the potential for wider exposure to bacterium. Further, due to frequent antibiotic exposure, S. enterica is increasingly becoming antimicrobial resistant (AMR), thus reducing treatment options for salmonellosis.

DNA sequence data were processed by PSAU and LSHTM for bioinformatics analysis which involved identifying genomic variants from alignments of the sequence reads to a S. enterica reference genome, as well as by de novo assembly. DNA sequences were used to create a phylogenetic tree to infer relationships among the samples. 

Through continuous collaboration and partnership between the Philippines and the UK, researchers of both countries learn how innovation and technologies may be applied to develop novel solutions and address problems the country is facing. 

Webinar participants in Zoom gallery mode
Zoom screenshot
A light-haired man in blue button down and a long-haired curly woman in blue boat-necked top, both posing beside the event poster with partner logos and event title