Discovery Park scientists in Sandwich, including teams at Pfizer, Firza, Venomtech and A4P Bio Logistics working on Covid-19 treatments

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Scientists at Discovery Park in Sandwich are working on a potential anti-Covid-19 drug which could start clinical trials later this year.

A team at Pfizer, which retains a heavy presence at the site, is working on the drug which as shown "promising activity".

The compound is derived from work carried out in response to the 2003 Sars outbreak. It is hoped it will enter clinical trials in the third quarter of 2020.

Elsewhere on the park, other life sciences and healthcare companies are looking to develop anti-viral drugs and collaborations to ensure clinical trials proceed without disruption.

Firza, which works with GP surgeries and NHS organisations to provide innovative technology and workforce solutions, has expanded its business dramatically as a result of the pandemic, including the establishment of a Covid-19 contact centre.

Over 70 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are now working virtually, providing services such as telephone consultations with high-risk patients to ensure medicines are being used properly.

Meanwhile, Wren Healthcare and A4P Bio Logistics are collaborating to ensure clinical trial continuity during the pandemic.

Scientists at Pfizer in Sandwich
Scientists at Pfizer in Sandwich

With many patients unable to attend usual clinical trial sites, Wren Healthcare is providing home visits from nurses whilst A4P Bio Logistics manages shipments of the trial medicine to patients and sample collection.

A4P Bio Logistics is also involved in international logistics for coronavirus test samples.

At Venomtech, researchers are investigating whether venom peptides [short chains of amino acids] can inhibit the interaction between the coronavirus spike protein and its cell surface receptors.

Supporters of Discovery Park are also playing their part.

Academics at Canterbury Christ Church University have been collaborating globally on a computer model to aid understanding of the virus and how it spreads. One group of reseachers at the University of Kent has been studying the drug susceptibility of the virus, while others there are working on a potential vaccine.

Mayer Schreiber, Discovery Park's CEO, is proud of the science site's efforts
Mayer Schreiber, Discovery Park's CEO, is proud of the science site's efforts

Mayer Schreiber, CEO of Discovery Park, said: "Everyone at Discovery Park is very proud of the work our innovative community is doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are pleased that we are open for business and can support these important activities. It’s also very exciting to see our partner universities contributing their research expertise to tackle the coronavirus, a sign of the academic excellence across our region."

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