TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Researchers at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) recently identified four new drug candidates for coronavirus treatment, including one that is 30 times more potent than remdesivir.
During a press conference on Tuesday (Feb. 23), the research team announced its exciting discovery of the four repurposed drugs that may be effective in treating COVID-19. Led by NYCU’s biological science and technology professor Yang Jinn-moon (楊進木), the team collaborated with National Taiwan University, Academia Sinica, National Chung Hsing University, and National Defense Medical Center to find better alternatives to the widely used antiviral remdesivir.
According to Yang, the team decided to test existing drugs that were used to treat patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) during the 2003 outbreak after it observed notable genetic similarities between the previous coronavirus and COVID-19. He said drug candidates were selected from a pool of FDA-approved medications and natural products.
With the help of artificial intelligence and big data analysis, the team cross-examined over 250 3D structures of main proteases of COVID-19 available in the public domain and targeted potential key proteins used by the virus to penetrate human cells.
The team was able to identify four drugs that strongly inhibited viral entry, including anti-HIV drug Nelfinavir, anti-inflammatory drug JMY206, and hepatitis C protease inhibitors Boceprevir and Telaprevir. Among them, JMY206 was proven by cell studies and animal experiments to be about 30 times more effective than remdesivir.
Yang said the research team will apply for patent protection before publishing its findings in scientific journals. He added that the four coronavirus drug candidates will be used to aid in treating related patients, reported CNA.