A Taiwanese-Malaysian research team has developed a platform to identify drugs that might inhibit COVID-19 infections, which screens massive databanks of existing medicines.
The platform was developed to help scientists find drugs developed to treat other diseases that might prove efficacious against COVID-19, the developers yesterday told a news conference held by National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) in Taipei.
Chang Chia-ching (張家靖), a professor in the university’s Department of Biological Science and Technology, said that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 infections, attaches itself to the ACE2 receptor on human cells.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
“Identifying ACE2 inhibitors rapidly is a top priority,” Chang said.
The researchers developed the platform to detect modulators that affect the interaction of SARS-CoV-2 and ACE2 using the electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) measurement technique.
The team thus far identified ramipril and perindopril, two medicines developed for treatment of cardiovascular diseases, as potentially interfering with the interaction of the virus and the cell, Chang said, adding that it also found another drug, enalapril, that might have a reverse effects.
The platform could also be used to search for medicines for treatment of other infectious diseases or even cancer, Chang said.
Kiew Lik-Voon, a professor in the University of Malaya’s Department of Pharmacology who is a member of the team, said that the medicines identified by the platform are preliminary results, adding that more work would have to be done to evaluate the drugs’ clinical effect.
Shieh Dar-bin (謝達斌), a professor in National Cheng Kung University’s (NCKU) Institute of Oral Medicine who is also a member of the team, praised the research as an example of successful cross-field collaboration.
The team comprised specialists from different academic areas, from electronic engineering to cell biology, he said.
NYCU president Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏) called the invention “inspiring,” saying that it was the result regular cooperation between Taiwanese and Malaysian researchers
University of Malaya vice president Noorsaadah Binti Abd Rahman attended the event via videoconferencing, saying that she was thankful for the participation of the Taiwanese researchers and hopes that more drugs would be identified.
The Taiwanese team members are from NCKU, NYCU, Chang Gung University, Taipei Veterans General Hospital and National Changhua University of Education.
Their study, titled “Development of flexible electrochemical impedance spectroscopy-based biosensing platform for rapid screening of SARS-CoV-2 inhibitors,” was published in last month’s issue of the Biosensors and Bioelectronics journal.
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