2020 Stefano Guidi

Leuven University (KU Leuven) scientists to carry out research on management of COVID-19

Scientists at the KU Leuven are to start work shortly on a large-scale study to try and find a way so down and manage the effects of the COVID-19 virus. To this end 15,000 curative molecules will be brought to Leuven from the United States. Each will be tested for effectiveness. The study is being financed by the CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates’ foundation.      

Leuven University’s Rega Institute is among a number of universities worldwide where research is or will be carried out with the aim of finding a means to slow down or limit the effects of COVID-19.    

Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’, the Rega Institute’s Johan Neyts said “We are not to embark on the development of a new medicine, because that normally takes about 10 years”.

"What we will do is look at a group of 15,000 materials that are active components of existing medicine of materials that are on their way to becoming a medicine. We will examine whether the contain materials that can slow down the onset of the virus. If this is the case they can be used very quickly in the treatment of those that have fall ill”.   

To be clear, the researchers are looking at medicines and are not developing a virus.  

The Rega Institute was chosen as it has a unique laboratory. The lab is completely automatic and can work 24/7. It is completely sealed, making it very safe. Speed is also an important factor. In addition to the 15,000 molecules from the United States, 3,500 molecules from Leuven’s own collection will also be tested. It will take a few of weeks before we know whether anything is effective in slowing down the onset of COVID-19 or limiting its effect.       

Professor Neyts doesn’t expect a powerful antidote to be developed anytime soon. Nevertheless he hopes that patients will be able to be help as a result of the research carried out by him and his team.  

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