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新型コロナウイルス感染症:重症化を抑える新薬の開発に向けた第一歩を

株式会社グライコテクニカ

株式会社グライコテクニカ

新型コロナウイルス感染症:重症化を抑える新薬の開発に向けた第一歩を

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2020年11月10日 17:50

ENGLISH PAGE 1

COVID-19: a first step towards developing a new drug to reduce severity of symptoms

 

 

Since its outbreak in the winter of 2019, COVID-19 spread rapidly around the world, transforming our way of life. According to statistics from the World Health Organization, there are currently 46 million cases and over 1.1 million deaths from COVID-19 (as of 2 November 2020). The number of new cases is still on the rise and we find ourselves in the middle of a serious pandemic.


The development of safer and more effective prophylactic and therapeutic drugs are sought as adequate means to prevent and treat infections.


In the hope that the technology we have established can be of assistance to the development of such drugs, we propose to work on a research with Professor Tatsuro Irimura of Juntendo University and Professor Norio Yamamoto of Tokai University, focusing on the mechanism which causes severe COVID-19 so that we can develop a drug to inhibit such cases.


We hope you can support us on this project.
 

Chief Executive Officer and President: Harumi Takabatake
Collaborator: Professor Tatsuro Irimura (Juntendo University)
Collaborator: Professor Norio Yamamoto (Tokai University)
 

We hope you can support our project

 

 

 - Outline of the project -

 

✔︎ About 5% of all COVID-19 patients become seriously ill after 10 days or more of becoming infected and require mechanical ventilation. 1,786 of those severe COVID-19 patients have died in Japan (Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare at 4 November 2020).

 

✔︎ Focus will be on ‘sugar chains’ with the objective of discovering causes of severe COVID-19, in order to enable the development of inhibitor for severity of symptoms.

 

✔︎ This is a basic research phase with the final goal of developing a drug which inhibits severe COVID-19.


 

Discovering the causes of severe COVID-19:
A first step towards developing a new drug to reduce severity of symptoms!

 

Hello, my name is Harumi Takabatake, CEO of GlycoTechnica Ltd.

 

Although previous researches on other coronaviruses provide important clues to counter this virus, there are still many things that are unknown about how humans become infected by the novel coronavirus and the trajectory to severe illness. 
 

 

 

We believe that ‘sugar chains’ play a significant role in the aggravation of this infectious disease. If we are able to understand and decipher how the SARS-CoV-2 works and develops into devere cases, there is a hope that such an understanding can lead to development of a therapeutic drug to reduce severity of symptoms.

 

【What are sugar chains?】

Sugar chains play an important role in a variety of life phenomenon, including blood types, fertilization, development, immunity, cancer and viral infections. They are referred to as the third life chain following nucleic acids and proteins. Sugar chain is also known as a ‘face of cells’ since it exists on the surface of cells and fluctuates dynamically, as if it were expressing its state and personality. *For more information, please refer to the Explanation of Medical Terms section below

 

Sugar chains hold great potential to provide therapeutic treatment for the virus. However, currently, there is no therapeutic drug that exploits research on suger chains.

 

Despite its great potential, there is little research in the area of sugar chains. In order to develop such a drug, more research is required into sugar chains, which are markers that give cells and viruses thier individuality. These markers are recognized by sugar chain catchers, named lectins. In order to diagnose and develop therapeutic drugs for various diseases, it is necessary to search for a marker, which is specific to each disease. 

 

 

There are many different types of ‘markers’. We have a unique technology to examine markers known as ‘sugar chains’ which exist inside the body.


Our research aims to build the foundations of the scientific research needed to develop a therapeutic drug for the virus. As with other medicines, it can take many years and funds to reach a stage where a treatment drug can be developed. Every dollar/yen spent will help speed up this process and get us closer to this goal. We are applying for a grant from the Japanese government but since our research does not fit into specific criteria, it may be difficult to receive such a funding.


Currently, we are using our own funds to advance the research little by little, but there is only so much you can achieve with such an approach. A reason for wanting to move forward with this research is because we believe this research will be critical not only in combating the current pandemic, but also in responding to other severe viral infections. COVID-19 has exposed how vulnerable we are without the right medical interventions. This research will help pave the way for us to develop better therapeutic drugs to hlep mitigate and combat the effects of viruses.


We very much hope that you can support our endeavours. 
 

 

 

COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world today.

 

A person catches COVID-19 as a result of infection caused by the novel coronavirus (SARAS-CoC-2) entering the body.


Early symptoms are similar to that of cold and flu, which include coughs, high temperature and fatigue. Loss of taste and smell has also been reported. About 80% recover after mild symptoms. However, about 20% become seriously ill very quickly, after 5~7 days of flu like symptoms, resulting in pneumonia.


Age and underlying medical conditions are known to be closely related to the severity of COVID-19. Intensive care unit admissions and fatalities increase dramatically from the age of 60. In Japan, a fatality rate is 7.2% for people in their 70s and 17.2% for those who are 80 or older (as of 21 October 2020). People with underlying medical conditions are also more likely to become seriously ill, regardless of their age.


In severe cases, treatment such as the use of mechanical ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in intensive care unit is employed. However, it is not possible to continue with ECMO treatment if severe pulmonary fibrosis occurs. Decision to use ECMO for those who are over 65 or with serious complications needs to be taken with care and a comprehensive approach. Also, some patients with underlying medical conditions are ineligible for ECMO treatment. In order to save as many lives as possible, it is important to prevent the symptoms from becoming severe. Source: Treatment Guide for Novel coronavirus infection, Third Edition.

 

 

 

Relationship between viruses and ‘sugar chains’

 

Viruses cannot multiply on their own, so in order to do so, they must infect cells in the human body. ‘Sugar chains’ act as a foothold for infection process.

 

For example, Tamiflu, a flu remedy you may be familiar with, is also related to sugar chains.
 

 

What are ‘sugar chains’?

 

Simply put, ‘sugar chains’ are markers which give cells their individuality. They play a variety of roles within the body. These markers are recognized by sugar chain catchers known as ‘lectins’.

A flu virus has this sugar chain catcher, ’lectins’. Since combinations of ‘lectins’ and ‘sugar chains’ are fixed, only cells with sugar chains specific to the flu virus' lectins will become the target of infection.

 

 

 

To complicate matters slightly, a virus as well as a cell has ‘sugar chains’ on its surface. As a result, the ‘sugar chains’ of the flu virus are recognized by ‘lectins’ on the cell.

 

 

What we can learn from this is that ‘sugar chains’ and ‘lectins’ play important roles in viral infection. In other words, understanding the mechanism of infection will help us to determine a strategy for developing a drug that inhibits viral infection and the spread of the virus in the body.

 

Professor Tatsuro Irimura, a project collaborator, has previously discovered that influenza and Ebola viruses can infect cells that carry ‘C-type lectins’, a member of the lectin family.

 

 

 

Let us explain how the virus works using flu, which you all know, as an example.


Flu viruses multiply inside a cell which has been infected. Viruses will then attempt to escape out of the cell so they can go on to infect the next cell. At this point, sugar chains of the cell prevent viruses from escaping, so the viruses use enzyme (scissors) to selectively cut ‘sugar chains’ to escape.


Influenza antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza were developed to inhibit this enzyme (scissors) function. They were developed by focusing on the mechanism of infection through ‘sugar chains’.

 

 

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