AMS BioteQ: A New Force in Taiwan's Fight Against Avian Influenza
As the prices of eggs and chicken soar, avian influenza is posing a significant challenge to human society. The virus, which used to be limited to birds, has recently been reported to infect humans. Experts are concerned that avian influenza could potentially trigger the next human pandemic. In response, Taiwan's AMS BioteQ has taken proactive steps from the perspective of antiviral drugs and is actively developing a broad-spectrum medication for avian influenza. This effort aims to become a significant force in Taiwan's combat against avian influenza. Currently, there is a lack of effective vaccines and medications for addressing avian influenza in humans, prompting major international pharmaceutical companies like Moderna and GlaxoSmithKline to urgently invest in H5N1 avian influenza vaccine development. However, given the rapid mutation rate of the virus, whether vaccines can effectively address the issue remains to be seen.
AMS BioteQ Chairman, Dr. Yi-Ju Tsai, pointed out that the H5N1 subtype (184.108.40.206b) highly pathogenic avian influenza virus strain is the primary virus of avian influenza responsible for the current global pandemic. Compared to other types, 220.127.116.11b is of particular concern to scientists due to two characteristics. First, it has an unprecedented level of virus transmission. As of the end of February 2023, 18.104.22.168b has infected over 58 million birds in the United States. It has also caused a new wave of wild bird deaths globally, reaching historic highs, and leading to record-breaking bird culling in various countries. Additionally, this virus has the capacity to infect mammals, and even humans, with the number of related cases continuing to rise.
Taiwan's AMS BioteQ has taken early action in the development of avian influenza medication. After discovering the potential for their COVID-19 antiviral drugs, YUAN-01 and YUAN-03, to treat avian influenza, AMS BioteQ has joined forces with Professor Arunee Thitithanyanont, a virology expert from Department of Microbiology, Mahidol University in Thailand, and Professor Sheng-Fan Wang, who heads the Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, and the Center for Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases Research at Kaohsiung Medical University, to engage in the development of avian influenza medication. This collaboration holds the promise of becoming a significant force in Taiwan's fight against avian influenza.
Secondly, H5N1 exhibits an alarming fatality rate. According to the World Health Organization statistics, the mortality rate for humans infected with H5N1 is as high as 53%, surpassing even COVID-19. Epidemiology professor Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo from the United Kingdom has warned that although there is currently no evidence of efficient human-to-human transmission of H5N1, it only takes a few genetic mutations to potentially trigger the next human pandemic. Dr. Shyam Bishen, Head of Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum has urged for the swift preparation of H5N1 vaccines and simultaneous investment in the research and production of antiviral drugs to mitigate the impact of future avian influenza outbreaks.
Professor Sheng-Fan Wang stated that preliminary experimental results indicate that YUAN-01 and YUAN-03 can effectively inhibit the infectivity of the H5N1 avian influenza virus. They have the potential to be candidate drugs for avian influenza. The next step is to plan related animal experiments. Chairman Yi-Ju Tsai of AMS BioteQ further explained that YUAN-01 and YUAN-03 are developed in-house by AMS BioteQ and are also Taiwan's first in-house COVID-19 antiviral drugs. Faced with the threat of H5N1, AMS BioteQ hopes to contribute to human health and poultry farming by countering emerging and mutating viruses with innovative medical technology.