SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate, and vaccine breakthrough infections are often heard. Is there any new weapon to deal with the virus? Kaohsiung Medical University Natural Product Libraries and High-throughput Screening Core Facility (NPS Core) and LumiSTAR Biotechnology R&D Team (hereinafter ” LumiSTAR”) developed by a formula can effectively block the entry of the SARS-CoV-2 into cells from edible plant extract library, and it is expected to develop into an antiviral drug in the future.
The Kaohsiung Medical University NPS Core incorporates the Taiwan indigenous plant library collected by the research team of School of Pharmacy of Kaohsiung Medical University. The NPS Core also cooperates with the Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Center (KBCC), which is the largest tropical living plant conservation center in the world, and has prepared thousands of extracts from distinctive plants from KBCC. These plant extract libraries are opened to domestic and international, academic and industrial researcher for drug development. In addition, NPS Core also established TFDA food ingredient reference plant extract library (TFIR) according to the Food and Drug Administration’s “List of Raw Materials for Food Use”. This seemingly humble collection could be an excellent source for developing new medicines, complementary treatments, and health supplements. Associate Professor Yen, Chia-Hung, the principle investigator of the NPS Core, pointed out that it is generally believed that these plants that can be used for food or food ingredient are too common, however, after proper extraction process, we observed quite excellent biological activities in several bioassays. Since these plant materials can be used as food ingredient, they can help reduce the cost and risk in the subsequent drug or product development process, and shorten the development time. This plant extract library is currently open to researchers in industry and academia, and NPS Core also cooperates with domestic and foreign academia and industry to find solutions for various diseases from this treasure house and to improve the health of people. LumiSTAR is one of the user that used TGIR extract library and develop a formula against the infection of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Dr. Zhang, Yu-Fen, CEO of LumiSTAR, said that LumiSTAR has long been committed to the development of an ultra-high-speed cell imaging platform to support the development of drugs and cell therapy. After the outbreak, some of its focus has shifted to integrating virus-related technologies. In cooperation with the NPS Core, they identified the extracts of camellia, ground ivy, lotus seeds, and several other extracts from edible plants can effectively prevent SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering cells. More importantly, the inhibitory effect of the combination of these extracts on SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is as effective as antibody drugs. The formula holds great potential for developing into antiviral drugs in the future.