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Business & Economy

Drug discovery company e-therapeutics offers coronavirus help

A North East drug discovery company has offered its services to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

E-therapeutics, based in Newcastle, says technology it has developed to help people fight influenza could be used to combat COVID-19.

The virus has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide, with UK Government advisers previously cautioning that effective vaccines may not be available until next year.

However, e-therapeutics says it is in a position to help and has urged potential collaboration partners to come forward.

The business, known for a computer-based platform capable of analysing models of disease and identifying patterns of proteins to deliver treatment, says it is acting out of an “ethical obligation for any organisation…to help.”

A spokesperson said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge to our society in a generation.

“If we do nothing, its consequences will be devastating.

“There is an ethical obligation for any organisation in a position to help with this effort to come forward and make itself known.

“We have a technology platform that is capable of being deployed to carry out rapid in silico phenotypic screening.

“We have successfully leveraged this to find active compounds capable of protecting human cells in influenza.

The spokesperson added: “These compounds work though their impact on the networks of interacting proteins underlying the host cell processes on which the virus depends for its life cycle.

“We believe the same strategies employed in our work on influenza could be used to identify combinations of compounds with useful activity against Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.

“Such combinations would be an essential part of the effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

“Importantly, these possible drug combinations would consist of currently approved and known drugs.

“This would reduce concerns around the possible risks of targeting host cell biology and causing unacceptable adverse effects.”

The spokesperson also moved to dismiss any suggestion the business, which also has a base in Oxford, had made its announcement for the sake of publicity.

They added: “It is not our intention to make a frivolous press release that capitalises on a global crisis to inflate our share price artificially or to create unrealistic expectations.

“We would ask any potential partner, whether industrial, governmental or academic, that has complementary resource and expertise, to make contact with us to explore ways in which we can progress.”