Portuguese startup uses frogs in Covid fight
A Portuguese startup Bioprospectrum has identified two substances in frogs that can neutralise the structural parts of the coronavirus.
The discovery comes as scores of laboratories around the world are looking to develop an anti-Covid vaccine with the Russians claiming to have completed clinical trials on one which will be available from January.
But the Portuguese startup which was founded in 2018 thinks that it already holds the key to making the virus ineffective.
The startup at the UPTEC incubator (University of Porto Science and Technology Park) has identified two substances in frogs that can neutralise, via computational chemistry, structural parts of the virus.
Work will begin on testing the breakthrough this month (August) in partnership with iMED (The Institute of Medicine Research at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Lisbon University.
The Porto startup identified two peptides — biomolecules — formed by linking two or more amino acids — which come from the green Iberian frog common in the Azores which can be used as an antiviral to treat infections caused by SARS-CoV-2.
The biomolecules will be tested on Bioprospectum own platform in partnership with the Brazilian artificial intelligence company MI4U which will enable “the selection of the most appropriate substance samples for a specific goal — defined by the researcher — and thereby avoid the need to carry out a detailed analysis of each molecule in the same sample”.
“The identification of molecules that can have a pharmacological application can take years if conducted under classic methods, but with AI the first results can be obtained in months,” says José Leite, one of the project developers.