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Chinese researchers select 30 drug candidates to fight novel coronavirus

(Xinhua)    13:54, January 28, 2020

BEIJING, Jan. 28 -- Chinese researchers have selected 30 existing drugs, biologically active natural products and traditional Chinese medicines which may have therapeutic effects on the novel coronavirus for further tests, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

A joint research team of scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the CAS and ShanghaiTech University is searching for drugs to combat the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has claimed 106 lives and infected 4,515 people nationwide in China as of the end of Monday.

Researchers from ShanghaiTech University, led by Rao Zihe and Yang Haitao, revealed Sunday the high-resolution crystal structure of the viral main proteinase (Mpro) of the novel coronavirus.

The Mpro, which controls the activities of the coronavirus replication complex, is an attractive target for therapy.

Based on the 2019-nCoV Mpro study, the joint team screened the marketed drugs as well as databases for high potency compounds and for compounds from medicinal plants, and selected 30 candidates through a combination of virtual screenings and enzymology tests.

The candidates include 12 anti-HIV drugs like Indinavir, Saquinavir, Lopinavir, Carfilzomib and ritonavir, two anti-respiratory syncytial virus drugs, an anti-schizophrenia drug, as well as an immunosuppressant.

Some traditional Chinese medicines that may contain effective components against 2019-nCoV, such as Polygonum cuspidatum, are also on the list.

The researchers suggested these drug candidates be considered for the clinical treatment of pneumonia patients infected with 2019-nCoV.

The team will carry out further tests on these candidates to provide guidance for clinical studies and treatments of the novel coronavirus, said the CAS.

Chinese researchers are racing against time to screen drugs targeting pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus.

The CAS has set up a special team and deployed scientific research tasks related to the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus. It will pool resources and give full play to its advantage in interdisciplinary research.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Monday released information on the first novel coronavirus strain successfully isolated from environmental samples. The information includes electron microscopic images of the virus, primers and probes for virus detection.

Tsinghua University announced that it will grant researchers who are working on the novel coronavirus treatment free access to its drug discovery capabilities and resources.

Tsinghua's School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute will make their high throughput screening platform and multiple compound libraries available to researchers for target-based or phenotypic-based screenings.

With the AI drug discovery and big data platform, researchers can carry out data mining of historical drug research and the development of other coronaviruses. Relevant preclinical and clinical data resources will also help predict the effectiveness of relevant drugs.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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