TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Academia Sinica has discovered five pharmaceuticals and herbal medicines capable of reining in the viral activity of the coronavirus.
The potential COVID-19 inhibitors include compounds of the malaria drug Mefloquine and HIV drug Nelfinavir as well as extracts of the herbs Ganoderma lucidum (an oriental fungus), perilla, and mint. The study, conducted by Academia Sinica, has been published in the medical journal PNAS.
Scientists involved in the research identified 15 medicinal compounds with the potential to fight the novel virus by combing through 2,855 U.S. FDA-approved drugs, either for human or veterinary uses and 200 antiviral Chinese medicines. Hamsters were then used in experiments at a P3 lab to determine the five hopefuls.
According to Hung Shang-cheng (洪上程), director of Academia Sinica’s Genomics Research Center and someone who was involved in the study, the key to developing antiviral medications lies in disrupting a virus’ reproduction process in the cells. This can be achieved by inhibiting one or two proteins involved in the replication, such as protease or RNA polymerase.
The team cautioned further research is needed to examine the therapeutic effects of the pharmaceuticals on humans. The scientists are optimistic about the likelihood these candidates will be developed into readily available medications that can be taken orally, such as the influenza drug Tamiflu.