Three Unair students propose antiviral candidates

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Suwaibatul Annisa (top left) Ratna Wahyuning Prastiwi (top right) and Diva Salsabilla (bottom) after their online presentation. (Photo: UNAIR)

IO, Surabaya – The COVID-19 pandemic did not impede three students of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FKH) Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR) from securing an achievement at a national level. Suwaibatul Annisa (class of 2017) with two of her friends, Diva Salsabilla (class of 2017) and Ratna Wahyuning Prastiwi (class of 2017) managed to get 2nd place in 2020 Public Health National Competition (PHNC) held by the Research and Achievement Department of Student Executive Board (BEM), Faculty of Public Health UNAIR. 

When confirmed by the UNAIR NEW Steam o n Mo n d a y (19/10/2020), Suwaibatul Annisa explained that their wish to take part in the national competition was to convey their group’s ideas. She also wanted to show that veterinary medicine students enjoy a broad field of science. “Actually, studying at FKH is not only about animals, but can also be beneficial for human health,” she said as quote by UNAIR NEWS on Monday (19/10/2020). 

After going through the paper selection, the FKH UNAIR team, together with nine other teams, presented their work on Saturday, October 10, 2020. They are from the University of Indonesia, Diponegoro University, Gadjah Mada University, Bandung Institute of Technology, The Islamic University of Indonesia, Brawijaya University, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology, and Indonesia University of Education. 

In 2020 PHNC presentation, Suwaibatul Annisa or Ica and her team proposed an idea, “In Silico Screening of bioactive compounds in Indonesian herbal plants as antiviral candidates for Covid-19”. “This idea is important for us especially at a critical time such as the present one. No cure for COVID-19 has yet been found. Besides, the biodiversity in Indonesia is also extraordinary,” said Ica. 

She added, in silico screening with molecular docking was chosen as the main method because it was considered effective in matching proteins and ligands, before being tested in vitro or in vivo in order to find a drug that could cure COVID-19. Ica and the team conducted screening in silico bioactive components of 6 herbs Indonesia: Abrus precatorius, Euphorbia tirucall, Sonchus arvensis, Calophyllum sp., Glochidion sp. and Clerodendrum minahassae against the 3CL pro protein receptor (main protease SARS-COV-2), using a molecular docking method to determine the energy of the bond between the formed ligand-receptor complexes. 

“We hope is that this idea can be followed up so the potential of Indonesian herbal plants can be explored, especially ways to ‘conquer’ the pandemic, considering that until now no COVID-19 cure has been found,” she concluded. (est)