A research team led by a University of British Columbia researcher and backed by emergency federal funding may have found a trial drug that can treat early infection of the novel coronavirus.

Led by UBC’s Dr. Josef Penninger, the team published peer-reviewed findings on April 2 in the journal Cell, saying the trial drug, called APN01, can “significantly block early stages” of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In an interview with Global News radio host Jill Bennett, Penninger describes the trial drug as having two functions, with one being “physically blocking the door to the virus so it cannot enter” a person’s body.

“The second function is actually to protect tissues like the lung, the heart or the kidneys from damage,” he said.

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The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019 but has since spread across the globe. The World Health Organization declared a global pandemic on March 11.

2:51COVID-19 survivors answer viewers’ questions

COVID-19 survivors answer viewers’ questions

The disease has so far resulted in more than a million infections around the world and more than 53,000 deaths as of 11 p.m. ET on April 2, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Countries around the world have put in place measures such as social distancing,