Thai scientists simulate lungs to test COVID-19 treatments

Thai scientists and research institutes have banded together on a project to test possible treatments for the COVID -19 virus using simulated lungs to gauge the benefits and drawbacks of candidate drugs before trying them on humans.

“This research initiative involves the use of a simulation of human lungs. It will test protein expression, a process necessary for the development of a new antiviral drug for use to treat patients with COVID -19,” said Dr. Khate Sripratak of the Central Chest Institute of Thailand (CCIT), who is leading the study.

Scientists in several countries are racing to develop a vaccine against COVID -19, with researchers at Oxford University reportedly furthest along the path. No one is certain, however, whether any of the candidate vaccines will be successful and how fast a workable vaccine could be created and distributed.

It is essential, therefore, to keep testing various drugs and approaches in order to develop the most effective treatments possible. A vaccine prevents someone from contracting the coronavirus, while a treatment helps an infected person recover.

The human lung simulation Thai scientists are employing would be used to test the efficacy of various drugs in decreasing the lung inflammation that often kills those infected with COVID -19. It would also test if those drugs lower the chances of the virus binding to human cells, Dr. Khate said.

Several medical institutes are partnering in the project, including the CCIT, Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI), and Thailand Science Research and Innovation. Others lending support include the Faculty of Science of Kasetsart University, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Science of Mahidol University, and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“None of the drugs currently used to treat COVID -19-infected patients has proven to be a particularly effective choice. They are drugs developed for use to treat other diseases caused by viruses such as HIV, MERS, and SARS,” said Dr. Nopphon Chuenklin of the Health Systems Research Institute.

“This project is, therefore, aimed at finding better medical responses to the ongoing COVID -19 outbreak while vaccine development and studies regarding herd immunity continue,” he said.

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