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A Niclosamide-Based Oral Antiviral Drug – A Possible Cure for COVID-19 Variants

CP-COV03, a niclosamide-based oral antiviral drug, may be combined with dexamethasone to raise efficacy 2.1 times.

Experimental results have been published for the first time showing that an antiviral drug containing niclosamide, an anthelmintic, in combination with dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, produces a “synergistic effect” for severe COVID-19 patients. There is a growing possibility that a combination therapy for severe COVID-19 patients, for which there is currently no suitable treatment, may be developed for the first time in Korea.

Hyundai Bioscience recently conducted an efficacy testing at KRIBB (Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology) on COVID-19-infected hamsters. It was announced on December 7th that as a result of oral administration of CP-COV03, an oral treatment for COVID-19, combined with dexamethasone, the therapeutic effect was found to be 2.1 times higher than that of dexamethasone alone.

At a press conference held at the Korea Press Center on the 7th, Hyundai Bioscience announced the results of these experiments and decided to provide related data to the medical community. This is the first study result that confirmed the synergistic effect of an oral antiviral drug with dexamethasone as COVID-19 combo treatment.

Currently, there are virtually no effective antiviral drugs for severe COVID-19 patients. As a temporary measure, doctors are prescribing a limited number of drugs such as remdesivir, the only approved antiviral agent for COVID-19, and Dexamethasone. However, remdesivir’s efficacy was questioned by WHO, and COVID mutation due to drug resistance was reported from Yale University research.

In the meantime, medical and scientific communities have been raising voices for the need to find an antiviral drug that will best combine with Dexamethasone, which is known to weaken immunity, to safely and effectively treat severe COVID-19 patients.

Hyundai Bioscience, having started developing a COVID-19 treatment last year, announced that, to overcome its drawback as a latecomer, it developed CP-COV03 with COVID-19 variants in mind from the beginning. To solve the COVID-19 crisis triggered by a readily mutating RNA virus, Hyundai Bioscience said that a “shift in thought” was needed and it had to go beyond existing approaches or practices in the pharmaceutical industry.

Accordingly, Hyundai Bioscience decided to improve existing drugs and develop an orally administered “host-directed” antiviral drug that acts on host cells rather than the virus. They selected niclosamide among many other candidates and developed CP-COV03 by incorporating their own advanced drug delivery system (DDS) technology.

Dr. Jin said, “As a latecomer in the COVID-19 drug competition, we recognised that the biggest challenge was to be mutations and it cannot be solved by existing methods. Through a shift in thinking, we concluded that host-targeted therapy was the answer and that niclosamide was the best drug to fit it.”

Niclosamide, the main component of CP-COV03, has a mechanism of targeting host cells, unlike most antiviral agents that target the virus. As a result, Hyundai Bioscience explains that it will exhibit antiviral efficacy without being affected by the mutations of COVID-19, such as the Omicron and Delta variants.

“The antiviral drugs for COVID-19 being developed by major global pharmaceutical companies are ‘virus-directed’ mechanisms that focus on the virus, so there is a limit in responding to virus mutations,” said Dr. Kyung-Il Kim, Hyundai Bioscience’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer). “CP-COV03 induces autophagy of host-cells to remove viruses that penetrated into the cells, making it effective regardless of mutation.”

Dr. Kim also stated, “Because CP-COV03 targets host cells, it will be a broad-spectrum antiviral drug that can treat COVID-19 and its variants.”

If CP-COV03 is approved for emergency use as a treatment for COVID-19, it will be possible to immediately take a preemptive response to patients with similar symptoms of the two diseases in the medical field even before it is separately approved as a flu treatment. This is expected to greatly contribute to resolving the medical crisis as well as concerns about the twindemic caused by the simultaneous outbreak of COVID-19 and the flu. [APBN]

Source: Hyundai Bioscience