June 19, 2020

[Corporate News] BASF supports search for active ingredients to combat coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

BASF provides research groups free access to substances from its compound library comprising several million entries

Supercomputer Quriosity identifies and optimizes promising molecules for public research project

As part of its “Helping Hands” initiative, BASF is not just donating disinfectant and protective face masks. The company is also providing support worldwide to academic research groups in their search for a suitable active ingredient to treat patients infected with the coronavirus. “We do not develop active pharmaceutical ingredients, but BASF has more than 150 years of experience in researching substances. This means we have the knowledge and large substance libraries with a wide variety of active ingredients,” said Dr. Peter Eckes, President Bioscience Research at BASF. The company has also developed its own computer programs to design molecules and has its own supercomputer called Quriosity. “Leveraging these enormous research capabilities is another way we can contribute to combating the coronavirus pandemic,” said Eckes. The company is taking multiple approaches in these efforts.

 

At several European sites, BASF Personal Care produces sanitizer free of charge for medical institutions. Pictured: A BASF employee loads the product for transportation to a central collection point.

     
In order to quickly identify a suitable active ingredient against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, academic institutions worldwide test in cell cultures the effectiveness of approved drugs that are already used in other viral diseases. These compounds, however, are possibly not sufficiently effective, so it is necessary to look for improved derivatives of the active ingredients. BASF researchers therefore conducted a computer-assisted search of the company’s substance library containing several million molecules in order to find similar compounds, which resulted in the identification of 150 promising candidates. BASF is making these molecules available to academic working groups free of charge and is also allowing the molecules to be used for research without making any patent claims. “For many years, we have been supporting academic research for drugs to treat infectious diseases, such as malaria, so we were able to quickly draw on our established contacts and processes for this project,” said Dr. Matthias Witschel, research fellow in BASF’s Bioscience Research.
    

BASF Colleagues of the Sokalan & Uvinul plant filling the shiping containers with hand sanitizer.

              

Supercomputer Quriosity models suitable molecules

A second approach has been initiated by chemists from the computational chemistry unit who thought about how they could use their knowledge to help in the search for active ingredients. They became aware of the startup PostEra’s COVID-19 Moonshot project, in which scientists worldwide volunteer to help find a substance that inhibits the so-called viral main protease, an essential enzyme of the virus. This inhibitor is intended to prevent the replication of the virus in the human body. BASF researchers have also joined this collaborative search effort and have designed numerous new molecules with the help of an internally developed computer program and the supercomputer Quriosity. Ultimately, they found 20 molecules that in the simulation optimally fit in the active site of the main protease. The researchers provided these molecule suggestions free of charge to the initiative for further studies.

“With these computer-simulated molecules, however, we do not always know if and how well they can be synthesized,” explained Prof. Klaus-Jürgen Schleifer, head of computational chemistry in the Digital Bioscience research division at BASF. BASF researchers are therefore also pursuing a third approach, which focuses precisely on this aspect. With the help of the supercomputer, they have tested all the compounds which in principle can be synthesized by one of the contract manufacturers taking part in the COVID-19 Moonshot project. “We are talking here about approximately 1.2 billion possible compounds whose potential to inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 main protease was calculated,” said Schleifer. The advantage: All of the promising molecules can be quickly synthesized and then also tested in experiments. BASF will also make these results publicly available through the COVID-19 Moonshot project.

“I am very pleased that we are able to support the active ingredient research with our special expertise in chemistry and provide academic research teams with both real as well as virtual molecules. Maybe they will assist in the development of a corona drug,” said Eckes.  

Helping academic research groups to find an active ingredient is one of many initiatives of BASF’s “Helping Hands” campaign. Worldwide, BASF is committing more than €100 million in total to fighting the pandemic.

More News

See all

February 16, 2024

[Work @ EuroCham] GEFE EXHIBITION PROJECT MANAGER – based in Ho Chi Minh City

Read more

February 15, 2024

[Work @ EuroCham] Operations Officer – based in Central Vietnam

Read more

January 30, 2024

[Work @ EuroCham] GREEN GROWTH SECTOR COMMITTEE & SUSTAINABLE FINANCE SECTOR COMMITTEE INTERN – based in Ho Chi Minh

Read more

January 26, 2024

EuroCham and VAFIE Discuss EU Investment Trends and Challenges in Vietnam

Read more

January 26, 2024

EuroCham Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City unite for sustainability

Read more

January 26, 2024

EuroCham’s Construction Sector Committee: spearheading sustainable development in Vietnam’s construction industry

Read more

January 26, 2024

[CORPORATE SUPPORT] A smart factory for smart materials: BASF celebrates the inauguration of its TPU plant at the Zhanjiang Verbund site

Read more

January 24, 2024

EuroCham Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City unite for sustainability

Read more

January 24, 2024

[CORPORATE PARTNER] PwC – Asia Pacific climate actions not on track: Moving beyond commitment and towards transformation

Read more

January 19, 2024

[EXTENDED DEADLINE] [Work @ EuroCham] GEFE Project Officer and GEFE Project MarCom Officer – based in Ho Chi Minh

Read more

January 19, 2024

Economic Insights Unveiled at “Economic Outlook 2024” Business Luncheon organized by EuroCham and BritCham

Read more

January 19, 2024

EuroCham Vietnam’s latest Whitebook proposes recommendations for boosting investment for a greener, more sustainable economy

Read more

January 19, 2024

[SUPPORTED CONTENT] PWC recently launched report on the impact of Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

Read more

January 19, 2024

EuroCham Construction Sector Committee Meets with Ministry of Construction to Foster Industry Dialogue

Read more

January 18, 2024

High-Level Hungarian delegation meets with EuroCham Vietnam, CEEC, and Consulate General of Hungary

Read more

January 12, 2024

EuroCham Rings in 2024 with Festive Celebration in Hanoi

Read more

January 12, 2024

Ringing in 2024 with Cheer at EuroCham’s New Year Celebration in Ho Chi Minh

Read more

January 05, 2024

Successful EuroCham Vietnam advocacy outcome regarding Circular on Nutritional Labeling

Read more

January 05, 2024

Vietnam’s business confidence gains traction in Q4 2023 amid challenges: EuroCham Vietnam Business Confidence Index (BCI)

Read more

January 05, 2024

Vice-Chairman Minh Nguyen continues tenure on Prime Minister’s Advisory Council for Administrative Procedures Reform

Read more

December 19, 2023

[Work @ EuroCham] MEMBERSHIP ASSISTANT – based in Ho Chi Minh

Read more

December 19, 2023

EuroCham’s constructive engagement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 21st National Conference on Provincial Affairs

Read more

December 15, 2023

Memorandum of understanding signing ceremony on enhancing the regulatory environment and healthcare access towards promoting technological advancements in the medical device sector

Read more

December 15, 2023

[Sector Committee Spotlight] Mobility Sector Committee

Read more

December 15, 2023

EuroCham’s mission to Da Nang: strengthening ties and showcasing investment potential in Central Vietnam

Read more

December 14, 2023

[CORPORATE PARTNER] BASF launches Irgastab® PUR 71, a cutting-edge antioxidant improving regulatory compliance and performance for polyols and polyurethane foams

Read more

December 08, 2023

[CORPORATE PARTNERS] BASF engages young minds in chemistry with two new Virtual Lab experiments in Vietnamese

Read more

December 08, 2023

[Event Recap][Breakfast talk] EuroCham Construction Sector Committee’s Successful HCMC Breakfast Talk on Designing with AI!

Read more

December 08, 2023

Vietnam enhances climate role at COP28 with JETP Resource Mobilization Plan

Read more

December 08, 2023

[CORPORATE PARTNERS] The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is resetting the value-creation agenda

Read more

Pour une expérience optimale, veuillez tenir votre mobile à la verticale !

Platinum Partners

Gold Premium Partners

Gold Partners

Silver Partners

Premium Service Partners