Researchers pin hopes on 'herbal cure'
Mahidol University plans to stage human trials for a herb-based medicine that researchers believe can kill the coronavirus.
The herbal extract comes from a local herb known as Krachai Kao -- or Finger Root -- which is also used as an ingredient in Thai cooking.
"We have studied the herbal plant, which is easily found in the country, so that we can take a further step in large-scale production," said Dr Suradej Hongeng, assistant dean of Research Affairs at the university's Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital.
"We believe Finger Root is the answer and we are now in the process of making it in a drug form to fight Covid-19 in the very near future."
The research team is led by Arunee Thitithanyanont, of Mahidol's Faculty of Science and Dr Suparerk Borwornpinyo, director of the Excellent Centre for Drug Development (ECDD).
Since March the team has researched 120 traditional herbs as possible cures for Covid-19 and a few showed outstanding potential, including Fa Talai Jone (Green chiretta) and Finger Root.
The team has been testing the efficacy of Finger Root since June and previous tests with laboratory hamsters have shown that the active ingredients in Finger root can kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The even better news is that Finger Root can totally kill the virus without causing any harmful side effects, Dr Suradej said.
Dr Suradej said the first human trials would take place next April, followed by others throughout 2021 but he hinted the team would try to fast-track the process by asking the Food and Drug Administration to give emergency approval and if granted, Finger Root pills could be available next year.