The Małopolskie Centre of Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University has been conducting research on human and animal coronaviruses for about 20 years, and, since January, also on the coronavirus from Wuhan, bearing the official name of SARS-CoV-2.
For almost two months, the researchers of the facility in Kraków have been trying to develop their own solutions to tackle the new coronavirus. Their studies help them to understand the mechanism of infection better and broaden understanding of the general problem.
"To date, we have managed to create tools that will allow effective medication testing. We have a lot of ideas, we also have at our disposal active substances that we have developed in the past. The preliminary results are promising", said Professor Krzysztof Pyrć, a virologist from Jagiellonian University.
According to Mr Pyrć, it is difficult to assess at the moment what the chances are of developing a drug or vaccine to prevent infection with the new coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are a large and extremely diverse family of viruses. The first coronaviruses were observed among animals in the 1940s, while the first one affecting humans - in the 1960s. These viruses are very common, but usually they do not pose a threat to people.
Mr Pyrć pointed out that from time to time, the animal virus pervades and then spreads among humans, becoming defined as “a new coronavirus”.
"If it has an ability to move effectively between people, there is a risk of developing a global epidemic”, he said, adding that SARS-CoV-2 is such “a new animal-derived coronavirus”.
On Monday, Science and Higher Education Minister Jarosław Gowin said that he would earmark PLN 25 mln (EUR 5.8 mln) for research on coronavirus to be undertaken by the Małopoloskie Centre of Biotechnology of Jagiellonian University in Kraków.