Medicine: children first

Chilean specialists dedicate themselves to researching and contributing to the progress made in treating and preventing disease.


In medical processes there is talk of red biotechnology, which allows the design of organisms to produce antibiotics, develop safer vaccines and new drugs, undertake molecular diagnoses, implement regenerative therapies, and develop genetic engineering to cure diseases through genetic manipulation.

The Lonely Planet guide says: “Chileans tend to adore children and babies, so those traveling with them will have already gone a long way toward breaking cultural barriers. The national love of their young ones is also reflected in everything related to safety, health, and family-oriented activities».

Though this is an eminently touristic publication, in Chile this description can also be extended to pediatrics. As in all developed countries, respiratory problems in infants have a major impact and present a challenge to local medicine.

One of children’s major enemies is the respiratory syncytial virus, which is responsible for three quarters of hospitalizations in the winter and 12.3% of deaths. Thus the importance of the research by national biochemist Alexis Kalergis, who has developed a vaccine with attenuated bacteria loaded with antigens.

Doctor Miguel O’Ryan has made another significant contribution to the fight against rotavirus, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and recognized as the work with the greatest impact in 2006 by another specialized magazine, The Lancet.

This so-called “stomach flu” kills at least half a million children every year. The Chilean specialist led the team that developed the antidote Rotarix for the laboratory GlaxoSmithKline, which has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health authorities of over 80 countries.