The Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology of the New University of Lisbon (ITQB-NOVA), based in Oeiras has announced the discovery of three new medicaments that weaken the virus responsible for COVID-19.
According to the Diário de Notícias, the team of scientists that led this research are already registering the patent for invention. This discovery may have a global impact on the struggle against SARS-CoV-2.
Cecília Arraiano, Margarida Saramago and Rute Matos led the project, together with Cátia Bárria, Vanessa Costa, Sandra Viegas and Susana Domingues. These scientists were joined by the teams from the Protein Modelling Laboratory, Caio Souza, Diana Lousa and Cláudio Soares, and the National Animal Health Reference Laboratory of the National Institute of Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV), the virologists Miguel Fevereiro and Margarida Henriques Mourão.
The process, which began just over a year ago, was completed in record time and culminated in positive results. The discovery allows infection with the virus to be better controlled.
The scientists gave the following summary: “Very simply, you could say that, instead of people developing severe disease and ending up in hospital, they can stay at home with a cold, just blowing their noses.”
The laboratory research phase having been completed, the team is awaiting the end of the patent registration process in order to advance to the next phase.
“This is where the pharmaceutical industry comes in. Clinical trials in humans do not fall under our remit”, they added.
Two of the three drugs discovered have already been approved by international medicines regulatory authorities, specifically the US regulator, the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration). These medicaments are already being used for other diseases, and the third is heading in the same direction.
The António Xavier Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology (ITQB-NOVA) is an organisational unit of the New University of Lisbon. Its mission is to conduct scientific research and promote advanced training in life sciences, chemistry and associated technologies, to the benefit human health and the environment.
It currently has 50 research groups and 500 researchers. In 2020, a task force was created to work on the theme and develop projects. One of these projects focuses on the development of an oral vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, which is being done in conjunction with the Gulbenkian Science Institute. At the moment, the project is at the experimental phase with mice, and the first results should emerge in the coming months. Another team of scientists from the ITQB-NOVA carried out pilot screening of a saliva test with results visible to the naked eye, developed at the institution. The institute has been on the front line in the battle against the pandemic. Since 2020, in partnership with Oeiras City Council, it has carried out thousands of RT-PCR tests for diagnosing Covid-19 in frontline workers, such as members of the fire service, police and educational assistants.