The Bolivarian government implements effective policies adapted to the needs of the country, with science and technology as the fundamental axis of national growth and development.
In this sense, the Ministry of Popular Power of Science and Technology (Mincyt), through its affiliated entities, carries out a series of projects whose innovations and inventions create products for the benefit of the people.
One such example is the therapeutic ozone oil, an initiative developed since 2013 at the Chemical Plasma and Nanomaterials Laboratory of the Chemistry Center of the Venezuelan Institute of Science (IVIC).
An example of Venezuelan scientific creativity, this oil is used in the treatment of skin diseases such as: acne, nail fungus, diabetic foot, parasitic diseases, infected wounds, ulcers, bedsores, insect bites, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, burns , herpes zoster, an irritant that is currently being validated by researchers for its properties as an antiviral drug and in the treatment of crop diseases.
Its refining process requires ozone treatment, that is, the interaction of oil and ozone. However, laboratory head Alexander Briceño explained that the interaction process is carried out with water because it gives greater stability to the final product.
“Water becomes antiseptic water, and when mixed with oil, creates a continuously bubbling emulsion, which is then passed through a temperature-controlled tractor. Ozone is obtained from a generator that produces a volume of gas at a specific concentration. This mixture comes into contact with the oil and It goes to the separation stage to get the final product. Then the physicochemical properties are characterized, which ensures the stability and high quality of the product,” he said.
This mixture produces substances with bactericidal, immunostimulatory and tissue repairing properties which, depending on the degree of oxidation, determine the type of condition to be treated.
Briceño emphasized that at first they had small equipment capable of producing a liter of oil, but its effectiveness caught the attention of the Phoenix Ozono company and an alliance was formed that allowed the creation of the first ozonolysis plant to increase the benefit of the people in production and marketing.
“During that time, a company (PhoenixOzono) was interested in the project and we started to form an alliance between the lab and that company (ozone production equipment manufacturer), the testing was small at the time and this alliance had access to to a larger team, we started working on a product scaling proposal (…) what we did was we scaled everything we did in the lab to a semi-industrial scale to generate a process that would allow us, he pointed out, that the product could be delivered to Mass-marketed, and thus garnered a ton of sales.
Currently, 2,000 to 2,500 liters of oil are produced per month, divided into three conditions: the first is less oxidized and can be used to treat psoriasis, dermatitis and skin irritation. The second has a higher peroxide index (PI) and is used in the treatment of mycosis, burns and diabetic feet; the last preparation is used in the treatment of infections caused by contact with pompano with a PI of 1000 meq.
Briceño emphasized that the therapeutic ozonated oil has all the sanitary licenses and will soon be sold in the Farmapatria network of public pharmacies, with a view to expanding to the private sector and international markets.
Hylesia metabus, better known as Pomfret, was first discovered in Venezuela in 1923. The body of this species is covered with hair, which when shed can irritate people’s skin and cause hives.
In the states of Sucre, Monagas and Amacuro Delta, the situation is considered a public health issue and is addressed by the national government through the Ministry of Popular Science and Technology (Mincyt) and the IVIC Chemistry Centre.
In mid-2020, Venezuelan researchers sampled important therapeutic ozone oil in 300 pomfret-affected patients from the state of Sucre. The results of the analysis established the efficacy of the product against this pathology.
Researcher Andrea Mónaco said: “Studies have shown that ozonated oil reverses inflammation, minimizes itching, pomfret-induced symptoms disappear within minutes, and also prevents symptoms.”
He emphasized that the product has also replaced a series of drugs for the treatment of lepidoptera such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and allergens.
Due to the great benefits of this product for the skin, Venezuelan experts began to study its properties in other pathologies, such as antivirals and phytopathogenic emulsions.
As for the antiviral drug, Briceño noted that they are developing a nasal drop therapy initially aimed at treating the effects of Covid-19, but they have since observed that it has huge benefits for people with allergies, rhinitis and sinusitis.
From these nasal drops, the idea arose to apply the product in the treatment of plant and crop diseases such as Fusarium (affecting the banana harvest) and pests such as Huanglong.
“Because ozone oil is not selective, it attacks viruses, bacteria and fungi, so we thought about applying it to treat diseases in plants, crops, and even wounds in animals. The range of applications is very wide, and there is another interesting feature of this project , that’s the nanoemulsion, which means that a single drop of water can penetrate any biological system,” Briceño explained.
Venezuelan women lead science
In Venezuela, more than 60% of the employees in the field of scientific research are women, thanks to the great contribution made by revolutionary politics to ensure and implement gender equality and expand the space for participation. The Ozone Oil Research Line is part of this process.
The team leading these investigations had important contributions from two chemical process engineers: Andrea Mónaco and Brenda Gutiérrez; and Mine Rengifo, Senior Technician for Industrial Materials, who shared experience with Alexander Briceño, Ph.D. in Chemistry, who holds an MSc in Applied Chemistry.
“Representing science in Venezuela is a great achievement. It motivates us to work hard and take on this role in order to be able to investigate, develop and create new fields of research that can benefit the Venezuelan people”, emphasizes Brenda Gutierrez explain.
Venezuelan researchers are benchmarks in the country’s science and technology sector, and their work contributes to the development of science, technology and innovation.