SUSTech research team develops COVID-19 drug

Writer: Zhang Yu  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2020-05-27

A research team at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) has found that a mix of astragalus polysaccharides and strontium may raise hope for the treatment of severe cases of COVID-19, the Daily Sunshine reported yesterday.

The trial medicine is said to be able to significantly boost the immune response of mammals, promote tissue regeneration and inhibit inflammation.

According to Ouyang Dongfang, co-head of the research and senior research associate with the University of Toronto, the dark-yellow liquid has been injected into mice that experienced similar symptoms of COVID-19 for testing and observation.

“Animal testing started in May this year, and if it goes well, the final results will come out in July or August,” said Ouyang, a 26-year-old researcher who was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Guangdong Province and studied in Canada.

In addition to the injection, the researchers have also developed an extract from the treatment that is suitable for human oral administration.

“At the beginning, we didn’t know that Chinese herbal medicine can fight the virus. We discovered it later,” said Tang Bin, co-head of the research and professor with SUSTech.

According to Tang, astragalus is an herb that has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system, while strontium is an indispensable trace element in the human body, which is closely related to bone formation.

When the two are combined to form a complex in a certain proportion, it can not only give play to the immuno-modulatory function of astragalus polysaccharides, but also the anti-inflammatory function of strontium. This is what Tang has originally envisaged about the use of the concoction.

“Our goal is to develop it into a broad-spectrum antiviral drug,” Ouyang and Tang said, adding that the new coronavirus is an RNA virus that tends to mutate extremely fast.

According to the two researchers, if the astragalus polysaccharide and strontium composition can be developed into an anti-inflammatory drug, scientists might be able to find the right drugs in case of a second wave of coronavirus infections or the mutations of the coronavirus.