SEOUL, South Korea--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DongWha Pharm (KRX:000020), a leading Korean pharmaceutical company, announced on April 21st, 2020 that it plans to conduct clinical trials using a new drug candidate DW2008 to treat COVID-19. DW2008 is an extract of the water willow plant (Justicia procumbens).
In vitro antiviral experiments performed at the Institut Pasteur Korea against COVID-19 demonstrated that DW2008 had 1.7, 3.8, and 4.7 times higher antiviral activity compared to chloroquine, remdesivir, and Kaletra respectively. Chloroquine, remdesivir, and Kaletra are drug repositioned candidates currently undergoing clinical trials with COVID-19 patients.
In addition to antiviral effects, DW2008 also inhibits TIGIT, one of the second- generation immune checkpoint proteins, which was recently reported to diminish host antiviral immunity to COVID-19. Thus, DW2008 is expected to improve the symptoms of COVID-19 patients through antiviral effects, enhancing the immune response, and improving lung function; the latter two effects have been elucidated in previous studies for asthma indication.
In preclinical animal studies, DW2008 demonstrated to greatly improve lung function and sputum discharge effects. Its excellent tolerability and desirable pharmacokinetic properties were also confirmed in humans, during its phase 1 clinical studies. Currently, DongWha Pharm has applied for phase 2 clinical trials for treating asthma patients with DW2008.
DongWha Pharm has filed a patent for DW2008 as a “pharmaceutical composition for the prevention or treatment of diseases caused by COVID-19,” and plans to apply for the “treatment use of investigational drugs” so that this drug can become immediately available for patients in urgent need. The company is preparing for a COVID-19 phase 2 clinical trial in June after the prompt completion of efficacy evaluations in animals.
Dr. Mase Lee, the head of DongWha Pharm Research Institute, said, “DongWha Pharm, the first Korean pharmaceutical company established in 1897 with the mission of ‘Servicing people and the country with good medicine’ will devote itself to the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of COVID-19, a pandemic threatening the world.