Can coronavirus spread be stopped with development of new COVID-19 therapies?
Can coronavirus spread be stopped with development of new COVID-19 therapies?
  • Yang Young-goo
  • 승인 2020.03.03 16:25
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Gilead launches clinical trial for remdesivir
Celltrion-SK Bioscience search for candidate drugs while government institutions spur development
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The global pharmaceutical industry is working together to put an end to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread by developing new therapies.

Gilead Sciences has launched the phase 3 trial for remdesivir to test the drug's safety and efficacy on the novel coronavirus while domestic firms such as Celltrion and SK Bioscience are searching for new candidate substances.

Gilead launches remdesivir trial

According to the pharmaceutical industry, Gilead Sciences began the phase 3 trial for anti-viral therapy remdesivir to test its potential as a COVID-19 therapy.

The firm said investigators would register 394 COVID-19 patients from 50 locations worldwide in the double-blind, randomized control, phase 3 trial.

The first participant in the trial was an American passenger from the Japanese Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, who applied to participate in the study.

Several animal tests have confirmed that remdesivir can treat coronavirus diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARs) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

American biopharmaceutical firm Inovio said that it also started the development of a new drug for COVID-19, having gained $9 million in funds from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Inovio said it would conduct preclinical studies on the new DNA vaccine INO-4800 in the first half of this year.

The aptamers included in INO-4800 are in the form of a single gene strand, DNA, that binds to the targeted protein and inhibits protein interactions. In other words, it is a mechanism of inhibiting and treating RNA, the genetic material of COVID-19.

Celltrion-SK Bioscience race into drug development

Domestic firms have also begun developing COVID-19 therapies.

Celltrion plans to conduct clinical trials by analyzing blood samples and detecting antibodies from COVID-19 patients obtained from Korean medical institutions.

Celltrion is reported to have applied to support the Korea Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) national COVID-19 project.

SK Bioscience has begun securing technology for vaccine development platforms to prevent new viruses, including COVID-19.

SK Bioscience has also applied to the KCDC's national COVID-19 project and plans to consult with relevant domestic organizations to produce, supply, and commercialize new virus vaccines to be developed in the future.

Komipharm has applied for an urgent clinical trial plan for Panaphix, a new drug candidate under development to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS).

According to Komipharm, Panaphix is an inflammatory treatment for viral infections that can inhibit a cytokine storm, known to cause death in patients with COVID-19.

A cytokine storm is a phenomenon in which the immune substance cytokine is secreted excessively and attacks healthy cells when the virus penetrates the body

ImmuneMed gained the MFDS approval to start a clinical trial for "HzVSFv13 injection." Investigators will carry out the trial at Seoul National University Hospital to treat COVID-19.

ImmuneMed had previously evaluated the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of HzVSFv13 in a 2018 phase 1 clinical trial conducted on healthy males.

Government agencies rise to the occasion

The KCDC is developing additional public-private partnerships for COVID-19 treatments, diagnostics, and vaccines.

The government agency has currently announced eight research projects, with the plans for the projects to be shortened so that investigators can quickly start research.

The Ministry of Science and ICT is especially conducting a 'new drug re-discovery' study to find the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs that could be effective against COVID-19.

The ministry aims to conduct the new drug re-discovery study to quickly identify a variety of drugs that could work on COVID-19 and provide doctors information about the drugs in the context of the rapid spread of the virus.

The ministry especially has plans to provide clinicians with the results of 'new drug re-discovery' studies for real-life use in the clinical setting.

"New drug re-discovery research to secure therapies quickly is what people expect from the advances of science and technology," Minister of Science and ICT Choi Ki-young said. "We will do our best to ensure that research is carried out successfully by allied organizations working together."

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