Shiv Nadar University, one of India’s leading multidisciplinary and research-based universities has announced a groundbreaking breakthrough solution in the world’s battle against COVID-19 on April 28, 2020. The University has made a press release on its official website.

 Dr. Subhabrata Sen from the Department of Chemistry, Shiv Nadar University, India along with his collaborator Professor Ralf Jockers, Institute Cochin (INSERM, CNRS, Université de Paris, France), along with a team of researchers, has discovered a set of New Chemical Entities (NCEs). These NCEs have the potential to cure Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) or Acute Lung Injury (ALI) induced by COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2). It can also cure other Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which are caused by coronaviruses.

A two-fold strategy was devised by the research team which involved:

  1. They would apply the NCEs to inhibit attachment, entry, and infection of the new SARS-CoV-2. It would be done through a known target on the virus
  2. They would co-administer a known drug (that modulates a set of hormonal receptors in humans) and these NCEs to reduce ARDS caused by SARS-CoV-2.

The team of researchers believes that they would be able to prevent COVID-19 from affecting a person’s lungs by the NCEs. It would also bring relief to COVID-19 patients suffering from ARDS by addressing lung injuries already inflicted by the virus, in cases the ventilators are either not proving effective or are not available altogether. 

“We hope our therapeutic approach will unravel solutions against maladies associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Our aim is to conclude the preclinical studies by the end of this year, post which the new compound will potentially be ready for the next stage of development along with human trials." Dr. Subhabrata Sen, Professor, Department of Chemistry at Shiv Nadar University said while commenting on his groundbreaking research.

Announcing this development, Dr. Rupamanjari Ghosh, Vice-Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University said, “COVID-19 has caused catastrophic effects globally – affecting lives and livelihoods. At the Shiv Nadar University, it is our constant endeavor to work towards addressing issues of local and global importance by investing in relevant research. This particular research holds out the promise for a drug that can combat COVID-19, SARS, and MERS – this is highly commendable! In this hour of a global crisis, our global team of researchers with unique core competencies has come together in solidarity -- my heartiest congratulations to the group led by Prof. Sen.”

Professor Ralf Jockers, a molecular biologist from Institut Cochin (INSERM, CNRS, Université de Paris, France) said, “I am excited about the project that we are currently running together with Prof. Sen on novel treatments for Covid-19 and I am hopeful that we can make a significant contribution to solving the challenges of this pandemic." 

The researchers have filed a provisional patent in India to protect the NCEs. They are now moving to the next stage of the novel molecule in discovery. They will be checking the efficacy by testing it on animals.

How does the treatment work?

It has taken months of research conceptualizing small molecule modulators of a set of hormonal receptors in humans and how they are connected with potential receptors in the lungs that act as the entry of SARS-CoV-2, SARS and MERS in the human host body. The researchers had looked into the pathophysiological condition of lungs during respiratory failure. This included detailed investigations of lung specimens from patients who were tested and found to have COVID-19. Using these data, the researchers designed the project that helps in sinking acute respiratory distress.