Green Cross LabCell said that it has begun research into a COVID-19 medication, with a hope to start a clinical trial by the second half of 2020 in Korea and the United States.
GC LabCell plans to develop a COVID-19 treatment based on the next-generation cancer immunotherapy called natural killer (NK) cells. The company will begin to develop the COVID-19 treatment through a joint study with a biotechnology company, KLEO Pharmaceuticals, using Green Cross’s NK and KLEO’s antibody recruiting molecules (ARMs).
ARMs are bispecific molecules designed to redirect endogenous antibodies to target cancer cells for immune destruction.
The project consists of two tracks.
One of them is to develop a COVID-19 treatment with its NK cell therapy that induces a long-term immune response by directly attacking the infected cells and activating other immune cells. The other one uses ARMs, which acts as a neutralizing antibody of NK treatment, to develop COVID-19 treatment.
The companies will conduct the research with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institutes of Health and a research team led by Choi Young-ki of the Chungbuk National University College of Medicine to proceed with the beginning of the study.
NK cell treatment can be produced en masse because it is made of cells from other people, the company said. NK cell therapy from other companies has a limited capability compared to that of GC LabCell due to products available only by autologous cells.
GC LabCell expects to shorten the developmental period and enter clinical trials during the second half of 2020 because the project is mainly about drug repositioning.
The NK cell treatment does not require candidate derivative, such as antibody screening, as the therapy uses innate immune cells that are primarily involved in killing viruses.
Besides, the company can aim to conduct emergency clinical trials for therapeutic purposes as it has data on safety issues of NK treatment.
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