Chair Professor Liang Liu, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Rector of the Macau University of Science and Technology (M.U.S.T.), discovered several active ingredients from Traditional Chinese Medicine which could significantly inhibit critical targets of the new coronavirus by cooperating with Xiao-Jun Yao, Professor of the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicines (M.U.S.T.). They applied a variety of chemical information and molecular simulation technologies, including molecular dynamics simulation combined with free energy calculation, flexible molecular docking and pharmacophore model, to high-throughput screen small molecules library of Chinese herbal medicine. The ingredients they found out could prevent virus replication, suggesting they might be the promising candidates for further investigation into the drugs of treating New Coronavirus Pneumonia. Professor Liu’s group also proved for the first time that two existing ‘old drugs’, such as Zhengqing Fengtongning, could obviously reduce lung fibrosis in mice model. The mechanism of this was closely related to the inhibition of inflammatory cytokines, indicating that these marketed drugs could have application potential for treating severe New Coronavirus Pneumonia and preventing sequelae such as pulmonary fibrosis which need to be further investigated. Zhengqing Fengtongning is produced by Hunan Zhengqing Pharmaceutical Group. It has been included in the “Double List” of National Essential Medicines and Medical Insurance Medicines of China, and is widely used for treating rheumatoid arthritis in various hospitals of China. These results from Professor Liu’s research team indicate that it will have a heartening perspective of developing antiviral and host protection drugs for the treatment of New Coronavirus Pneumonia by investigation of Chinese herbal medicine.
Recently, the project "Research on Zhengqing Fengtongning and other marketed drugs against New Coronavirus Pneumonia" applied by Professor Liu’s research team has been approved by Guangdong Province Special Science and Technology Project of Emergency Response for Prevention and Control of New Coronavirus Infection, which is also the first cooperation project between Guangdong and Macao. The project is led by the Zhuhai Science and Technology Research Institute of M.U.S.T. and the State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicines (M.U.S.T.). The main collaborators include Professor Zi-Feng Yang and Professor Jin Su of the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Diseases of Guangzhou Medical University, and Guangdong Kuayuan Aerospace Medical Engineering Technology Co., Ltd. and Hunan Zhengqing Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd.
Interactions between small molecules and targets of New Coronavirus based on computer simulations