At OyaGen, scientists are busy looking at different proteins that make up different viruses. They discovered that the compound Oya1 has been effective at handling the Ebola protein.
"We know the mechanism for Ebola, but because it happens so rapidly, we've only tested against live COVID," said Ryan Bennett, chief scientific officer at OyaGen.
They used Oya1 to test other viruses and saw great results.
"That's when we discovered that the coronavirus that was an outbreak in 2012 called MERS, we were completely effective against that virus and tissue culture," said Harold Smith, CEO, and founder of OyaGen.
Now with the current coronavirus outbreak, scientists at OyaGen are optimistic their compound will work against COVID-19. Back in the 1960s, the same compound was FDA-approved to treat humans for cancer. Even though it wasn't found to be effective for cancer, it was safe enough to test on humans.
"We're thinking that we got the two parts, what phase one clinical trial would be is to determine safety in unaffected people. We essentially did that in the '60s. Not us, but others. That data doesn't change," said Smith.
Smith says if they go through standard regulatory approval, they would have to conduct two studies in non-human primates before they could test the compound on humans. He says the whole process could take eight to 12 months. But, if the FDA accepts the safety data from the 1960s, things could move sooner.
"Right now, people are now comfortable being quarantined, maybe comfortable with the hospital rate, comfortable with the death rate. If this is what this is, we will be set for the eight-month, 12-month process," said Smith.
No matter what, Smith says they will follow the FDA's protocols.