Researchers have identified an antioxidant in locally grown black tea leaves as a potential inhibitor of protease activity in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Chiayi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said on Wednesday.
A research team led by Wu Ching-yuan (吳清源), head of the hospital’s Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, used a computer program to identify potential antiviral components in traditional plants, the hospital said in a statement.
Theaflavin, a polyphenolic compound, shows broad-spectrum antiviral activity against several viruses and could be used as a lead compound for the development of a SARS-CoV-2 inhibitor to target the DNA-directed ribonucleic acid (RNA) polymerase (RdRp) enzyme.
Photo copied by Lin I-chang, Taipei Times
In coronaviruses, RdRp catalyzes the replication of RNA from a template, making it an attractive candidate to help develop a treatment, Wu said.
RdRp in SARS-CoV-2 is also a primary target for the antiviral remdesivir, which the WHO has called the most promising drug available for the treatment of COVID-19, he said.
Remdesivir works by inhibiting RdRp, which many RNA viruses — including coronaviruses — use to replicate themselves.
The antiviral effects of theaflavin are similar to those of remdesivir, Wu said.
However, the exact in vivo effect is still unclear, and further research is needed to confirm the mechanism whereby theaflavin targets SARS-CoV-2, Wu said.
The findings were published by the American Society for Microbiology in the Journal of Medical Virology on March 13, the hospital said.
In other news, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday said that quinoline antimalarial drugs, which have been discussed as a possible treatment for COVID-19, are produced in Taiwan and could be made available if testing proves them to be effective against the novel coronavirus.
In a small French study, doctors used a drug in the quinoline family — hydroxychloroquine — to reduce the duration and severity of COVID-19 symptoms in people with mild cases, said Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), convener of the center’s expert advisory panel.
If properly tested and approved, a process that normally takes 12 to 18 months, the drug could conceivably reduce the burden on medical resources such as quarantine facilities, Chang said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that there is one manufacturer of quinoline drugs in Taiwan.
If the treatment were proved to be viable, the government’s first priority would be to guarantee domestic supply, Chen said.
The government could participate in the distribution of the drug on the precondition of not harming the manufacturer’s commercial interests, Chen said.
Internationally, drug distribution rights could be used diplomatically to build ties with international partners to address shortages amid the pandemic, he said.
Drugs that have been touted as potentially effective against COVID-19 have become the subject of heated competition in the past few weeks as governments scramble to combat the disease.
Remdesivir is being used on a trial basis in Taiwan and has reduced fevers in the three COVID-19 patients who have been treated with it, although its effect on overall recovery time is still being studied, Chang said.
Liya Chu (朱如茵), whose parents are New York-based Taiwanese restaurateurs, has been crowned the champion of US television cooking competition MasterChef Junior, after wowing the judges, including celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, with a feast of fusion cuisine. In the finale of the show’s eighth season, broadcast on Thursday, Chu walked away with US$100,000 after serving a spread of spiced duck breast with scallion pancakes and miso eggplant, followed by coconut pandan panna cotta with a passion fruit coulis and sesame tuille. Chu, who was 10 years old at the time of filming three years ago, faced off against then-11-year-old Grayson Price from
A university student has gained the spotlight for an interactive map he designed detailing all of China’s military bases and installations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Soochow University music student Joseph Wen (溫約瑟), who calls himself an amateur military enthusiast, said he created the map to “help people better understand the cross-strait situation.” Wen originally posted the map online on June 14 last year, but it gained greater attention after he mentioned it during an appearance on a China Television talk show. On the show, Wen said he had gathered information on the locations from publicly available Web sites, as
RISK FACTORS: ‘We hope people can cooperate and endure it ... it is possibly the very important last mile,’ Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations are to remain the same next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 42,112 new local COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, saying that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped to a new low this month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the center is keeping COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations the same due to the local virus situation, and an increase in the number of imported cases of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, among other risk factors. Easing
Opening-day ticket sales for a horror exhibition at the Tainan Art Museum were suspended twice on Saturday as the show attracted too many visitors. Titled “Ghosts and Hells: The Underworld in Asian art,” the exhibition runs until Oct. 16. It is the local version of a show that debuted at the Musee du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris. It was planned and curated by Julien Rousseau. The Tainan museum said that within an hour of its doors opening, more than 1,000 people had entered the exhibition. By noon, 3,000 physical and virtual tickets had been sold, while the museum had more than 4,000