Press Release

Institut Pasteur Korea reported a potent antiviral efficacy of nafamostat against SARS-CoV-2

Institut Pasteur Korea reported a potent antiviral efficacy of nafamostat against SARS-CoV-2
- Nafamostat showed the superior antiviral effect to remdesivir recently approved by the US FDA for emergency use -

Institut Pasteur Korea has found a strong antiviral activity of nafamostat against SARS-CoV-2. Nafamostat is a drug currently used as a blood anticoagulant and acute pancreatitis treatment.

Among the 3,000 drugs tested by Institut Pasteur Korea, nafamostat showed the most potent antiviral efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. Tested on cells infected by the virus in culture nafamostat was several hundred times more effective compared to remdesivir a drug recently approved for emergency use in the US.

In the light of a recent study published by a German research team the researchers of Institut Pasteur Korea evaluated the antiviral efficacy of nafamostat, a TMPRSS2 inhibitor, using Calu-3 cells (human lung cell line), instead of the Vero cells commonly used in SARS-CoV-2 research.

The results were published* on May 12 (local time) on the ‘bioRxiv’ preprint server, and the Institute filed a patent (April 20, 2020) based on their results.

In addition to its antiviral potency against SARS-CoV-2 highlighted in this research report, nafamostat has the added value of being an established anticoagulant. As such, nafamostat is expected to help relieve the symptoms of patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

The therapeutic use of nafamostat to treat COVID-19 will be validated through multiple clinical studies currently underway at home and abroad. In particular, an investigator-initiated therapeutic trial (Principal Investigator: Prof. In-Gyu Bae, Division of Infectious Diseases, Gyeongsang National University Hospital) where 10 domestic hospitals are participating, is ongoing in Korea. Besides, clinical trials are being conducted abroad, including Italy and Japan.

Wang-Shick Ryu, CEO of Institut Pasteur Korea, said, “We hope nafamostat could help overcome the COVID-19 crisis as its superior antiviral activity to remdesivir was found in cell culture experiments.” and added, “As in clinical use originally as an anticoagulant, nafamostat is expected to reduce blood clotting associated with poor clinical outcomes in severe COVID-19 patients, relieving symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).”

Institute Pasteur Korea has been conducting “Drug Repositioning” research to discover candidates for COVID-19 treatment by screening drugs that have already been licensed or currently in clinical development. The research is supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Interior and Safety, as part of the 'National Life Safety Emergency Response Research Project'.
* Comparative analysis of antiviral efficacy of FDA-approved drugs against SARS-CoV-2 in human lung cells: Nafamostat is the most potent antiviral drug candidate (