ANTIVIRAL THERAPY RESEARCH UNIT
TIDREC’s Advancement of Knowledge in Antiviral Therapy Unit specializes in research and development of novel antiviral drugs for various infectious diseases in the region. The unit comprised of trained and experienced virologist providing expertise in the antiviral drug discovery screening and testing using in silico virtual screening approaches and established in vitro models. The antiviral laboratory is fully equipped with biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) facilities for work with infectious viruses associated with human and animal diseases, and facilities for fluorescence microscopy, molecular and immunoassays for virus analysis.
The unit has been actively collaborating with local and international universities in antiviral studies and development. They included AIMST University (Kedah, Malaysia), Emory University (Atlanta, GA), National University of Singapore, National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) Taiwan, and University of Tartu (Tartu, Estonia). One of our stronger collaborators, Dr. Keivan Zandi at the Emory University, was one of TIDREC’s post-doc and later, a TIDREC faculty member. He remained a TIDREC Associate Member when he left for Emory and continued to contribute in the Antiviral Unit research. Up to date, the unit has discovered numerous natural and synthetic compounds, for instance flavonoids and nucleoside analogues, for their antiviral properties against arboviruses including dengue virus, zika virus, chikungunya virus and Japanese encephalitis virus. Other than the arboviruses, influenza virus (H1N1), Coxsakievirus A16 and Enterovirus 71 virus are available in the unit for antiviral studies. The unit has published at least 30 scientific papers in ISI-indexed journals with high impact factor and has filed 7 patents. Currently, the antiviral unit offers antiviral services to various national and international companies such as the Malaysian Rubber Board, EntoGenex Industries Sdn. Bhd., Biotropics Malaysia Berhad, and Arno Therapeutics (USA).
More recently, the unit was awarded with significant amount of funding from the government to demonstrate the antiviral mechanism of natural compounds against Chikungunya virus. The virus has caused localized outbreaks in Malaysia with the recent one in Tanjung Sepat in late 2018. The unit plans to venture into emerging animal virus studies that have potential impact on livestock and the Malaysian economy like the Tembusu and Getah virus. In future, the unit aims to expand its compound library base and implement a high throughput antiviral screening system for better and more robust discovery of antiviral compounds.