In containing the COVID-19 epidemic, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan proactively promotes cooperation between Taiwan’s academic research community and their foreign counterparts to support the global effort. Funded by MOST, the Research Center for Emerging Virus Infections (RCEVI) of Chang Gung University in Taiwan has been dedicated on the R&D of the infectious diseases. Through the referral by the Science and Technology division in Australia, RCEVI and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) in Australia will cooperate on the research of the effectiveness of the anti-parasitic drug "Ivermectin" in inhibiting the novel coronavirus, which the study might lead to the development of new antiviral drugs in the future.
On April 11, BDI announced that their joint research with the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity found that ivermectin drugs can inhibit the growth of SARS-CoV-2 within 48 hours and help cells to clear up the virus. After the news was released, it attracted worldwide attention and discussion. After MOST’s thorough assessment, director Shin-Ru Shih of the RCEVI was invited as chief researcher to discuss with the Australian research team regarding the study of ivermectin.
The researchers from both sides held the first video conference on May 7. Both parties showed a very high willingness to cooperate, and have reached a consensus on specific follow-up cooperation projects. In the future, RCEVI in Taiwan will provide virus isolates as well as P2 / P3 laboratory equipment, while BDI in Australia will provide experimental drugs to jointly study the inhibitory effect of ivermectin against SARS-CoV-2. In addition, the scope of cooperation will be further extended to HIV, Zika, the influenza, and dengue virus. Both parties also agreed that Chang Gung University and Monash University will sign cooperation and confidentiality agreements on behalf of both parties. Once the agreement is signed, specific research will be carried out as soon as possible. With a goal to achieve concrete results as early as possible to help fight the epidemic, MOST will continue to follow up the progress of the cooperation between the two parties and provide support when necessary.
The RCEVI was established in 2009, and has continuously carried out the research projects of the MOST. The core of this mission is to respond to the affect and threats caused by emerging viruses, such as SARS and avian influenza (H1N1). on socio-economic, transportation, ecological, and educational levels.
Hua-Wei, Michael, CHANG,
Department of International Cooperation and Science Education
Ministry of Science and Technology
Science and Technology Division of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia