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[2020/02/11] TVGH, NYMU and NCTU Established a “Novel Coronavirus Research Alliance” to Develop a Rapid Diagnostic Test and Appropriate Drug Treatments

TVGH, NYMU and NCTU established a “Novel Coronavirus Research Alliance” on February 6thand held the first epidemic prevention conference.


In order to support 2019-nCoV epidemic prevention, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, National Yang-Ming University and National Chiao Tung University established a “Novel Coronavirus Research Alliance” on February 6th. In combination with industry, this alliance will focus on developing a fast diagnostic test and novel treatments/drugs to tackle 2019-nCoV.


At the first scientific epidemic prevention conference, Dr. Michael Malison, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCC) expert and, Policy Chair, Professor of the National Yang-Ming University, Director Chang of the Taiwan Research-based Biopharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (TRPMA), NYMU industrial Chair Professor Chen, and former Chief Secretary Chen of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control decided to set up five work-groups. These targeted reagents, drugs, influenza, regulation and smart medicine. The Taipei Veterans General Hospital Department of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine is one of the few labs verified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and it passed next generation sequencing laboratory verification last year, making it the top national medical center. With the advantages provided by this three-party alliance, the first aims are to develop a rapid diagnostic test and novel treatments/drugs in order to tackle 2019-nCoV.


Dr. Michael Malison praised Taiwan’s efforts in disease prevention, especially the release of accurate information through the media, which has reduced public panic. Regarding epidemic prevention, he recommended identifying high-risk groups on a scientific basis and estimating the potential economic impact of the disease. Former Chief Secretary of the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, Chen, remarked that in addition to first-line prevention of the disease, what the epidemic-prevention team needs the most is support from research teams. The need to identify the precise “weapon(s)” needed to combat the virus is the major reason for the establishment of this alliance.



  The conference was called by the Presidents of National Yang-Ming University and National Chiao Tong University , and the President of Taipei Veterans General Hospital. (Left); Dr. Michael Malison praised Taiwan's efforts at epidemic prevention (right).


Experts present at the conference believed that the goal at this stage needs to be blocking the virus' entry from overseas, nevertheless epidemic prevention units still lack a fast diagnostic test. Although the virus can be detected in the laboratory at present, the lack of a fast diagnostic test undoubtedly lowers epidemic prevention efficiency at airports and ports. Such a test would also help to reduce the screening pressure created by suspected cases. The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control has released information on screening for 2019-nCoV and the Research Alliance will be focusing initially on the development of a fast diagnostic test that would help to reduce the presence on epidemic prevention.


The long-term plan should be to develop a vaccine or vaccines, but the goal right now is to identify anti-viral drugs that target 2019-nCoV. NYMU industrial Chair Professor Chen remarked that basic research is too slow to be helpful and that we need to find a solution that uses existing drugs. Therefore, the research alliance would prioritize existing anti-viral drugs and test their efficacy on the 2019-nCoV. Due to the emergence of locally infected cases, the development of an approach using hyperimmune globulin might also be a feasible strategy.


Since Taiwanese regulations on authorizing the development of reagents, drugs and vaccines during a major epidemic and emergency are not yet complete, TVGH, NYMU, NCTU would use science/technology legal professionals to assist the government with speeding up the development of the legal resources needed for epidemic prevention, and use smart medical resources during medical care to help patients survive the disease safely.


The conference was held by NYMU President Guo, NCTU President Chen and TVGH superintendent Chang. Vice President Stanton of NYMU and American disease control expert Dr. Malison also assisted the research alliance, as well as helping to provide international linkages. The research alliance has completed the preparation work and is now working on research development, the legal regulation aspects, various clinical areas and community level approaches in order to help fulfill Taiwan's epidemic prevention needs and ensure the health of Taiwan's population.


The first scientific epidemic prevention conference was directed by NYMU President Guo. Experts gathered together to discuss epidemic prevention issues.