Australia’s Monash University, along with the University of Melbourne and Taiwan’s Chang Gung University, signed a collaboration and nondisclosure agreement centering on the development of new drugs for potential use against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2—the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this cooperative research agreement, Chang Gung University will provide strains of SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses while Monash University will focus on the study of ivermectin as a possible treatment for SARS-CoV-2. All of the research will be carried out in Taiwanese laboratories and led by a prominent research virologist and director of the Chang Gung University Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections.
Australian Research into Ivermectin Stimulates Taiwanese Interest
This research collaboration was prompted by a Taiwanese ministry after reviewing the laboratory studies from Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the University of Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, showcasing that ivermectin can eliminate SARS-CoV-2 in cells within two days in a laboratory setting.
Consequently, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia contacted the two Australian universities to propose the collaboration with Chang Gung University, reported Dr. Shin-Ru Shih, director of the university’s Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections. Dr. Shin-Ru Shih, educated at Rutgers, will oversee the research projects.
The collaborative research deal offers a framework, resources, and talent from both countries to focus research projects not only the identification of novel therapeutic drugs targeting COVID-19, but the inclusion of additional viruses as well such as influenza, HIV, dengue fever, Zika and others reported the Taipei Times.
Ivermectin & COVID-19
Presently, there is no clinical evidence that ivermectin treats COVID-19. Researchers from Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute and the University of Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity have shown that in a lab-based cell culture, high doses of the anti-parasitic drug zaps SARS-CoV-2. This does not prove, however, that such a treatment can work in humans. In fact, to date, there is no clinical evidence that ivermectin is a treatment for COVID-19.
However, as TrialSite News closely tracks, a growing number of researchers are certainly interested in pursuing more investigation into the potential for a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19—as there is no treatment today other than remdesivir: a drug that essentially shortens the duration of the resultant illness by a few days based on the results of a prominent study. Interestingly, prominent researchers inform TrialSite News that there are certain interests that are opposed to investigating ivermectin; but given there is no real effective treatment for SARS-CoV-2, why would that be the case? Why wouldn’t the existing data points from lab studies lead to more prominent ivermectin-based clinical investigations?
Well it would appear that research groups around the world, in fact, do want to better understand the possibilities of ivermectin as a possible treatment pathway. Hence, at the request of our readers, TrialSite News has followed a number of emerging studies involving ivermectin and COVID-19: from Iraq and Egypt to France and Argentina to now the United States and Taiwan and Australia, academic medical centers and research clinics are ramping up ivermectin-based studies. The goal of these researchers is to understand what safety and efficacy data can be generated, carefully in controlled studies. The Australian and Taiwanese effort represents the latest effort in what clearly indicates a growing global interest in the topic. But here at TrialSite News, we must reiterate there is no proof as of yet that this anti-parasitic drug treats COVID-19. Research must be conducted, data must be generated, analyzed, debated, and discussed among medical research experts—and based on those outcomes, any claims—pro or con—can be made thereafter.
Chang Gung University Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections
All of the collaborative studies between the Australian research centers and Chang Gung University will occur at the latter’s Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections. This research center was established in 2008 to support the national Taiwanese response to health threats such as SARS and influenza subtype H1N1, reports the Taipei Times. This department’s leadership understands that emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases threaten human society and research must ultimately lead to safe and effective treatments. With a mission to rapidly and accurately identify deadly pathogens, the Chang Gung University Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections undertakes research on methods to control, prevent, and develop novel treatments.
Taiwanese team, directed by a multi-disciplinary collaborative approach, is determined to fulfill their missions including:
· Identify the viral agents for emerging infectious diseases
· Conduct studies in multidisciplinary research fields on factors and dynamics of the emergence of new viruses
· Bridge basic and clinical sciences
· Develop antiviral agents and vaccines
Dr. Shin-Ru Shih leads the department as Director. She received her bachelor’s degree in medical biotechnology and master’s degree in Biochemistry from National Taiwan University while earning her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Rutgers University in the United States. Dr. Shih set up a molecular virology laboratory in Chang Gung University and the Research Center for Emerging Viral infections in 2008.
Dr. Shin-Ru Shih, PhD, Director, Chang Gung University Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections, University of Melbourne
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