In addition to raw materials for adhesives, coatings, and healthy food, can a potato also provide ingredients against the effects of infection with the coronavirus? To investigate this, the Dutch provinces of Drenthe, Friesland, and Groningen have decided to support research that should answer this question. The potato project is one of the five initiatives that have received funding for their innovative solutions to solve the current health crisis caused by the coronavirus.

A total of one million euros is available for the five projects. They have been selected from 22 entries following a call from the Samenwerkingsverband Noord- Nederland (SNN). The ‘COVID-19 subsidy’ is intended to accelerate the advancement of innovations that combat the virus.

The diversity among the projects submitted is great and produces surprising combinations, SNN states in a statement. The projects that receive subsidies not only focus on finding a new vaccine or medicine, but also on COVID-19-related care such as better diagnostics and faster rehabilitation. “For example, one of the projects combines expertise in the field of serious gaming and virtual reality with knowledge of rehabilitation and treatment therapies; a promising combination to offer corona patients the right care and treatment, where possible without the intervention of a healthcare provider.”

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    The five winning projects:

    Citrus bioflavonoid hesperidin as anti-viral agent for SARS-CoV-2 – Color & Brain BV

    Hesperidin blocks the connection between the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the ACE2 receptor of human cells. Hesperidin is a by-product of citrus fruits and has been safely applied for many years. Medication with citrus hesperidin can, therefore, become a treatment for corona without side effects. With hesperidin, dermatologically tested products are developed by project partner and cosmetics manufacturer ZoiY® and will become available during the project.

    Enzym-inhibitors from a potato for inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 – Cooperative AVEBE U.A.

    This project uses a product extracted from purified potato protein, which can suppress the infection routes and inhibit lung damage. With this product, new medicines can be developed, such as creams and nasal spray.

    Covid-19 total rehab – Lode B.V.

    Rehabilitation as early as possible ensures a better and faster recovery and can prevent complications. Ultimately, this results in a higher quality of life. At Total Rehab, the patient begins rehabilitation in bed as early as in the ICU. Thanks to the combination of an ergometer at the bedside and specially developed software on tablet or PC, a patient’s progress can be tested more often and results are immediately visible. As a result, the rehabilitation process is better monitored and a more active approach is taken to optimal recovery.

    The development of AhR inhibitors for oral antiviral therapy for COVID-19 patients – Syncom

    The coronavirus activates the AhR receptor to bypass the immune system. By blocking this receptor with a drug, the immune system can better deal with the virus and prevent its multiplication. The same method is successful in controlling Zika and Dengue, the efficacy in corona is being investigated.

    Virtual Reality against Covid-19 – Reducept B.V.

    This project develops a treatment method for corona patients that combines knowledge around Virtual Reality. A patient who stays in the ICU for a long time sometimes has to rehabilitate for up to 5 months. With VR, this process can become shorter and more effective. VR also has a positive influence on the mental well-being of the patient. The VR trajectory can not only be used for coronary patients, but also for people who experience mental complaints from the quarantine.

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    Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of