The creation of the first Scientific + Science Technological Park in Venezuela proposes that the findings of local researchers make the leap from the laboratory to the industry to meet the needs of the population and promote the productive development of the country.
This state-of-the-art facility is located in the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), in Miranda state, which is part of Greater Caracas.
During its inauguration, on February 1, the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, affirmed that with the creation of this center it is sought that science “has direct application in social, economic and cultural life“. In the same way, it is expected that it will be presented as an “opportunity to think about new economic and productive horizons from science.”
In the Technological Science Park there are researchers from IVIC, the Institute for Advanced Studies (IDEA), private businessmen, innovators, technologists and producers, as explained to RT by the Vice Minister of Application of Scientific Knowledge of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Alberto Quintero.
It is expected that it will serve as a stimulus to manage the flow of knowledge and technologies between the members of the National System of Science, Technology and Innovation and of the National Productive System.
For Quintero, who is also director of the IVIC, this initiative “means a lot” for the development of the country because it proposes shorten the distance “between the laboratories and the problems“, which usually exist in Venezuela and other nations.
“One of the most powerful things that the Technological Park has is that we are generating responses to address our own problems.”
For his part, the head of the IVIC Molecular Physiology laboratory, Jesus Rafael del Castillo, adds that as “science cannot be done without effective funding“, and that this “is scarce, especially in conditions of economic crisis”, the Park is part of the search to “generate its own resources”.
To find out about three of its initiatives, RT spoke with the researchers who carry out the ‘Gluti Kids’ projects, a glutamine-based oral rehydration solution for the treatment of dehydration associated with acute diarrheal diseases; the Huanglongbing (HLB) detection kit; o Dragon Amarillo and Eduǫuim, a software for teaching chemistry in high school.
Venezuelan scientists, after 20 years of laboratory findings, created a solution based on glutamine, an essential amino acid for the formation of proteins, which achieves efficiently and effectively rehydration during acute diarrheal diseases.
Currently, glucose and sodium-based oral serums are offered on the market for the same purpose. However, tests and clinical studies showed that the compound with the amino acid is absorbed by the intestine more efficiently than the monosaccharide.
The product, called ‘Gluti Kids’, seeks to promote the absorption of organic solutes that could serve to replace the losses of water, sodium and electrolytes that occur during diarrhea.
“Efficient and effective”
The head of the IVIC Molecular Physiology laboratory explained that several clinical studies were carried out in which one group took oral rehydration solution with glucose and the other consumed one with glutamine.
The preparation containing the amino acid needed half the solution to achieve rehydration, which was the ultimate goal, and the process happened in half the time.
“We developed a solution that from the physiological and clinical point of view is more efficient and more effective in rehydration,” says del Castillo.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death in children under five years of age. Every year 525,000 die from this cause.
Del Castillo explains that children, by losing 3% of their body weight in liquids and electrolytes, are in danger of death.
Kit to detect the yellow Dragon
Venezuelan researchers developed a rapid diagnostic kit to detect in situ Huanglongbing HBL, a disease that affects citrus fruits worldwide, known as Yellow Dragon.
This disease causes the leaves to turn from green to yellow asymmetrically. Also, they look like they are swollen.
Matias Hernandez, an agronomist engineer, explained that this inflammation suggests that there is a buildup of starchindicative of the presence of the yellow Dragon.
The disease manifests itself when the bacterium Candidatus Liberibactertransmitted by the insect Diaphorina citri, lodges in the sieve tubes of the phloem, which constitutes the vascular system of the plant.
How does it work?
The kit has a piece of sandpaper that is used to roughen the surface of the blade. The portion of vegetable fiber obtained is introduced into an envelope containing one milliliter of water and one drop of iodine.
If the plant is diseased, the iodine will react with the starch and the liquid will turn black. This result, which is obtained in a maximum of five minutes, is a rapid diagnostic test that also serves to check if other plants in the same field could have the bacteria.
With this kit you are looking for Generate management and disease control alternatives and of the vector, affirms Hernandez. In addition, the integrated management of the crop is sought in the areas where citrus is produced.
Computational Chemistry Lab
Faced with the advantage of being able to observe and understand molecular reactions for the Computational Chemistry Laboratory team, they considered the possibility that high school students could do so as well.
For this reason they developed ‘Eduquim’, software to promote the teaching and learning of chemistry in the third year of secondary education. They hope that soon they will cover the fourth and fifth year of high school so that the program can be distributed throughout the country.
They explain that they do not seek to replace teachers but to be a support to get students to think, be critical and reflective. Besides, a way of learning by playing is proposedthrough various knowledge challenges.
Another important aspect is that the platform goes a little beyond high school chemistry and seeks to relate it to more everyday events.
In addition to the computational simulation of the reactions, they also make recordings of experiments that are carried out in the laboratories so that the students can have the practical part of the theory.
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