The Korea Herald


Korean COVID-19 drug developments hasten overseas

NeoImmuneTech, Chong Kun Dang, GeneOne Life Science report on trials ongoing in the US, Russia

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : Nov. 30, 2020 - 17:11

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South Korean companies developing COVID-19 treatments overseas are one after another announcing how their endeavors are progressing.

On Monday, NeoImmuneTech said it finished administering its NT-I7, an interleukin-7 pipeline stabilized with a patented technology, on lightly affected COVID-19 patients in the US. 

The company has yet to derive a result from the test, but NT-I7 was previously demonstrated as safe and efficacious in cancer patients by creating new lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell with immunity enablers such as natural killer cells, T cells and B cells.

NeoImmuneTech is sponsoring the clinical trials to show that NT-I7 can treat COVID-19, conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

NeoImmuneTech, located in the US state of Maryland, is 25.31 percent owned by Korea‘s Genexine. Genexine is itself developing the COVID-19 vaccine pipeline GX-19 in Korea in a phase 1/2a trial. 

GeneOne Life Science, another Korean biotech firm, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to carry on to phase 2 clinical trials of its oral medicine GLS-1027.

According to GeneOne Life Science on Monday, GLS-1027 can suppress cytokine inflammations that could lead to more serious lung diseases. In the phase 2 clinical trial, GeneOne Life Science plans to give the drug to 132 COVID-19 patients to determine how the pipeline can prevent pneumonia.

Joel Maslow, chief medical officer at GeneOne Life Science, was quoted as saying that GLS-1027 in animal tests yielded a superior therapeutic effect to dexamethasone, a drug currently being employed to treat serious cases of COVID-19. GeneOne Life Science is also carrying out phase 2 clinical trials of COVID-19 prevention nasal spray GLS-1200 in the US. 

Nafabeltan (Chong Kun Dang) Nafabeltan (Chong Kun Dang)

As for Chong Kun Dang, a Korean company researching COVID-19 treatment in Russia, the company expressed positive outlook regarding the midterm analysis of Nafabeltan (nafamostat)‘s clinical phase 2 trial.

According to CKD, Russia’s Data Safety Monitoring Board has recommended that the company continue through the phase 2 trial, acknowledging the therapeutic value of Nafabeltan on COVID-19 patients.

CKD plans to finish the phase 2 trial before the year ends, and to apply for conditional use of the drug in Korea in January.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (