Health and Society


Towards Effective Solutions for Combating COVID-19: An Interdisciplinary Approach


Owing to the severity of the corona virus pandemic, there is an urgent need to explore novel treatment alternatives. There have been more than 300 clinical trials going on with various antiviral agents being used for the evaluation on COVID-19. Despite the urgent need to find an effective antiviral treatment for COVID-19 through randomized controlled studies, certain agents are being used all over the world based on either in vitro or extrapolated evidence or observational studies. Until current date, all the research is focused on drugs, without any research focusing on new treatment alternatives. Moreover, evidence has shown the important role of adequate hygiene and disinfection measures in limiting the spread of COVID-19, as the virus can spread not only via aerosol droplets, but also by touching contaminated hands and inanimate surfaces. Unfortunately, this has led to a significant increase in price of these sanitizers and disinfectants and shortages in their supply, with the emergence of low quality products that do more harm than good, not to mention their environmental impact. Thus, there is an unmet need to develop effective yet affordable environmentally friendly sanitizers/disinfectants to curb the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, a specific aim of the project was to test the antiviral activity of different kind of samples and sanitizers. Various AGYA members and alumnae/i from different countries and disciplines joint forces to realize this project within an interdisciplinary approach.


The tested samples have been prepared in advance by the other AGYA members and alumni in their home institutions and send for their analysis to Pasteur Institute of Tunis.

Tunisia – Pasteur Institute of Tunis (Microbiology)

The antiviral assays have been conducted under the supervision of AGYA member Olfa Messaoud and her colleagues led by Dr. Mohamed Fethi Diouani, who is responsible of the Veterinary and Nanotechnology team from the laboratory of Epidemiology and Veterinary Microbiology under the head of Prof. Dr. Abdejelil Ghram at Pasteur Institute of Tunis. The tested samples have been prepared in advance by other AGYA members and alumnae/i in their home institutions.

Egypt – EJUST (Nanotechnology) / Ain Shams University (Nanotechnology and Pharmacy)

Ahmed Khalil, Maha Nasr, and Samar Saad Eldeen Azab provided drug samples, drug loaded nanoparticles, and biomaterials.

Palestine – Al-Quds University (Pharmacology)

Ahmad Amro prepared samples of natural product extracts.

Jordan – Al-Zaytoonah University (Pharmacology)

Suhair Sunoqrot developed environmentally friendly antiviral sanitizers/disinfectants based on bioactive natural products.

Germany – Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Health Sciences)

In a next step Mohamed Abou El-Enein followed up on the in vitro results from Tunis so that possible patenting and contacting interested pharmaceutical companies can be done with the relevant nanoparticle products and sanitizers/disinfectants. His research team also investigated the susceptibility of T- lymphocytes to SARS-CoV-2 infection using a pseudovirus of equal infectivity.


One of the main AGYA targeted research activities is to promote health, and to provide solutions for health problems not just in the Arab world and Germany, but also worldwide. This newly installed collaboration channel between Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, and Germany will focus on aspects that are endorsed by the Working Group Health and Society on the long-term, since one of the main aims of this group is to explore health challenges. With this project, another perspective will be added to the working group, which is providing actual and innovative solutions for health challenges, not just in the Arab countries and Germany, but also on a global level.

At least one published manuscript in a high-ranked research journal is in due course. The patenting of the successful formulations would be possible in the light of the antiviral results at a later stage, in order to commercialize the resulting promising product. The project will be extended in 2021 and involve also AGYA members in social, nutritional, and sport sciences to investigate to long term effects of the pandemic.


Mohamed Abou El-Enein

Medical and Health Sciences
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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Ahmad Amro

Pharmacy, Molecular Biology
Al-Quds University, Faculty of Pharmacy

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Samar Saad Eldeen Azab

Biology, Pharmacy
Ain-Shams University, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy

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Ahmed Saad Gomaa Khalil

Materials Science
Fayoum University and Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST)

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Olfa Messaoud

Human Genetics
University of Tunis El Manar, Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Laboratory of Biomedical Genomics and Oncogenetics

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Maha Nasr

Pharmacy
Ain Shams University, Faculty of Pharmacy

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Suhair Sunoqrot

Pharmacy
Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan

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Date and Venue of the Project

Egypt Japan University of Science and Technology (EJUST), Egypt

Institut Pasteur de Tunis, Tunisia

Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany

Al-Zaytoonah University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan

Ain Shams University, Egypt

Al-Quds University, Palestine

 

Funding Scheme

Working Group Project and Working Group Meeting

 

Countries Involved

Germany, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine

 

Disciplines Involved

Medical and Health Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nanotechnology, Molecular Biology

 

Graphic by PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock.com

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