Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Researchers from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) in Taiwan who have developed a Chinese medicine formula to suppress COVID-19 plan to transfer the rights to the product on a not-for-profit basis , they told a news conference on Tuesday.
According to Hsu Chung-hua (許中華), a professor at NYCU’s Institute of Traditional Medicine.
The drug was developed early in the pandemic, before vaccines became available, based on knowledge of the SARS coronavirus, a close relative of COVID-19, said Hsu, who is also branch director. Chinese Medicine Linsen and Kunming of Taipei City Hospital.
Researchers conducted an initial study of the formula from February to May 2020, distributing it to frontline medical workers and hospital staff.
Of the 1,086 people who took the formula, about 90 percent reported a reduction in sore throat, cough and other cold symptoms, Hsu said.
Based on these promising results, researchers from NYCU’s Institute of Traditional Medicine and Institute of Pharmacology began conducting animal tests to understand the mechanism behind the effects.
The formula was found to ‘significantly reduce’ the expression of two proteins in the lungs – ACE2 and TMRSS2 – which act as receptors for the COVID-19 virus, thereby interfering with the process by which the virus binds to host cells , Hsu mentioned.
The drug was also effective when given to lab rats as an inhalable drug, he added.
Currently, the formula is only available on prescription from Chinese doctors at public hospitals in Taiwan, said Hsu, who stressed that it should only be used as an adjunct to COVID-19 vaccines.
By porting the formula, a company could seek regulatory approval to make it available over-the-counter, allowing it to reach more people, he added.
NYCU Vice President Cheng Tzu-hao (鄭子豪) said the university is looking for a manufacturer to whom it can transfer the rights to the formula for charity, citing the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine partnership for example.
The NYCU team’s research on the formula was published March 21 in the international scientific journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.