Mon, Jun 28, 2004 - Page 4 News List

50 SARS-killing substances found by research team

CNA , Taipei

A Taiwanese research team has found more than 50 substances that can kill the virus that causes SARS.

The research team was led by Dr. Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), director of the Genome Research Center under the Academia Sinica, and their report has been published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academia of Sciences of the US, according to Wong.

In addition to researchers from the Academia Sinica, Wong's research team consists of researchers from the National Defense University, National Taiwan University, National Tsinghua University and National Taipei University of Technology.

In the last year, the researchers tested some 10,000 substances and found that about 50 of them were able to effectively check the reproduction of the SARS virus in the laboratory.

Some of the substances have already been used for other purposes, such as the early medication for high blood pressure called Reserpine, an anti-inflammatory drug called Aescin, and the insecticide Valinomycin.

Some substances were found in plants, including oil of eucalyptus and extract of honeysuckle and ginseng.

Wong's team combined two drugs used in the treatment of AIDS and found that they were not only effective in killing the SARS virus but also in treating cats suffering from AIDS.

AIDS is a common disease among cats in the US, affecting almost 20 percent of the cat population there, Wong said.

While pharmaceutical companies might not be interested in developing a drug used exclusively for the treatment of SARS because of the small market, Wong said the synthetic drugs created by his team have caught the interest of foreign pharmaceutical companies because of their potential in treating AIDS in human beings and cats, as well as SARS.

Wong said his team is cooperating with the Development Center for Biotechnology in hopes that their drugs will be commercially developed one day.

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