UPDATE : Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Korea confirms Covid-19 candidate drug’s effect through weasels
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2020.06.03 16:05
  • Updated 2020.06.03 16:05
  • comments 0

A locally developed antibody treatment candidate to fight Covid-19 showed a therapeutic effect in a test in weasels, the public health authorities said. The experimental drug is expected to be commercialized in the first half of 2021, they said.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the government was working with private companies to develop an antibody treatment and plasma therapy against Covid-19.

Kwon Jun-wook, deputy director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a daily briefing on Tuesday.

The antibody treatment candidate, jointly developed by the National Institute of Health and Celltrion, showed its effectiveness in a test in weasels. NIH and Celltrion plan to test it in mice to evaluate the effect further.

“In the experiment, researchers injected the neutralizing antibody in Covid-19-infected ferrets and checked how the agent was effective on the Covid-19 virus,” KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook said. “The result showed that ferrets treated with the antibody agent recovered much better than those untreated.”

Lung tissues of the treated ferrets also showed that the areas of inflammation caused by the virus have improved significantly, Kwon went on to say.

He noted that the efficacy and safety of Celltrion’s potential Covid-19 would need more evaluation through experiments on rats or monkeys. However, the latest weasel testing was meaningful. The researchers could secure non-clinical data, which must be conducted before a human clinical trial.

The health authorities aimed to secure a Covid-19 antibody treatment by the first half of next year. “As antibody drugs can be made by culturing recovered patients’ plasma, we can produce them in a large amount,” Kwon said.

Other drugmakers are also rushing to develop Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.

GC Pharma is working on plasma therapy to treat Covid-19.

KCDC aims to get plasma therapy earlier than the antibody treatment.

As for Gilead Sciences’ potential treatment remdesivir, KCDC was participating in a meeting of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to discuss the matter, Kwon said.


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