Chinese drug research center shares resources with scientists
Updated 21:33, 29-Jan-2020
By Wu Guoxiu

As scientists in China hurry to develop a treatment for the new coronavirus, the nation's Global Health Drug Discovery Institute said it will share resources with all researchers working in the field.

Tuesday morning, northern Beijing. Scientists at the Global Health Drug Discovery Institute are developing new drug types designed to fight the novel coronavirus. Some work remotely to collect information, while some are in the library.

"Based on research, we found previous results on SARS and MERS that haven't been followed or further tested. After this outbreak, we'll be testing them in libraries to see if there is any valuable information or chemical compounds that can help speed up the development of new drugs," said Dr. Liu Renhe, senior investigator at Global Health Drug Discovery Institute.

Chinese scientist working on anti-coronavirus drug discovery in the lab of Global Health Drug Discovery Institute in Beijing. /CGTN Photo

Chinese scientist working on anti-coronavirus drug discovery in the lab of Global Health Drug Discovery Institute in Beijing. /CGTN Photo

The institute was jointly founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Tsinghua University and the Beijing Municipal Government in 2016. It is an independent, non-profit research organization. Its director, Dr. Ding Sheng, also the dean of the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Tsinghua University, said the challenge now is time.

"Developing specific drugs or vaccines is not a major challenge, the major challenge right now is whether we can do this fast enough to really counter the virus right now, in the coming days or weeks," said Dr. Ding.

"Right now we're trying to mobilize more resources to use drug re-purposing approaches, for example, to look at known drugs, to take some short cut to see if we can do this faster to provide some treatment options for the current situation," he added.

The institute now has over ten research projects in the pipeline, targeting major infectious diseases, though no drugs are in clinical trials or on the market yet. It's now making its research platforms available to all scientists, including the high-throughput screening platform, multiple compound libraries, as well as AI drug discovery and big data platforms.

"Over the last couple of years, we have established pretty robust capabilities in drug development, and also lots of international partnerships, we hope we provide all those at no cost to researchers all over the world to make this development more accelerated", said Dr. Ding.

To accelerate the process of drug discovery against the deadly viral disease, this center is providing all researchers working on the new coronavirus treatment all the resources it has for free. They're soliciting teams and projects on a global scale to strengthen the battle against the virus.