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The COVID-19 epidemic continues to ravage the world, with a total of 44 million infections worldwide so far, while there are still nearly 400,000 confirmed cases in Europe and the United States every day.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, FEBICO(Far East Bio-Tec Co., Ltd.) has been cooperating with Chang Gung University’s Emerging Virus Infection Research Center to conduct in vitro study to evaluate the inhibition of different types of coronaviruses. It was found that Apogen® can effectively inhibit the 229E coronavirus, as well as SARS-CoV2, COVID-19 with significant inhibitory activity.

The study was conducted by a standard plaque reduction assay to evaluate the inhibitory effect of Apogen®. In each well, 2×106 Vero E6 cells/wall was seeded and grow to 95% confluency. Apogen® is then added to each group.
There are six groups in total to determine the concentration which can achieve 50% virus inhibition: virus group, virus group with Apogen® at 50 ug/ml, 100 ug/ml, 250 ug/ml, 500 ug/ml, 1000 ug/ml. Each group is conducted in triplet.
After treatment, each cell is incubated for another hour and wash with PBS buffer to remove unattached virus. Each well is then treated with agarose gel with nutrient to allow the cells to grow for 3 days. At the end of 3 days, cells are fixed with paraformaldehyde and stained with crystal violet to determine the viability of cells.

Result and discussion:
As violet blue only stains for the DNA of viable cell. The unstained, white spots indicated the death of cells due to viral infection and is recognized as viral plaque.
Apogen® can inhibit SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in cellular level. SARS-CoV-2 can be inhibited completely at 250 ug/ml and 70% can be inhibited at 100 ug/ml. The result demonstrates that Apogen® can be a promising agent for SARS-CoV-2 intervention and prevention.
Comparing with the previous study of Remdesivir, an adenosine analogue, EC50 of Remdesivir is 0.77 μM. The inhibitory mechanism of remdesivir is through incorporation into nascent viral RNA strands which results in premature termination. However, Remdesivir through clinical trials was found to be more effective to Caucasians and people with mild symptoms, while Asians and patients with advanced disease progression received little to no therapeutic effect. In addition, liver failure is a common side effect for Remdesivir treatment.

FEBICO has been developing antiviral drugs for more than 20 years and recently discovered that the main drug ingredient, Apogen®, has a significant inhibitory activity against the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV2, COVID-19) according to in vitro study.

The discovery of this cellular experiment is a beginning for SARs-Cov-2 inhibition. Through FEBICO’s long-term commitment to anti-viral development, we are seeking clinical partners to co-develop antivirus product and bring contribution to the globe in this pandemic.