Press Release

Institut Pasteur Korea Confirmed the Efficacy of Potential COVID-19 Drug and Drug Candidates against the SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Institut Pasteur Korea Confirmed the Efficacy of Potential COVID-19 Drug and
Drug Candidates against the SARS-CoV-2 Variants

- Antiviral activities found equally effective against the two recent variants identified in the UK and South Africa -
Apr 14, 2021, Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea ㅣ Institut Pasteur Korea(IPK) announced that potential COVID-19 drug and drug candidates exhibited equally effective antiviral efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 variants compared to the early SARS-CoV-2 isolate.
The Zoonotic Virus Laboratory of IPK compared the antiviral activities of potential COVID-19 drug and drug candidates among the early SARS-CoV-2* isolate and the recent variants* identified from the UK and South Africa in cell culture experiments. Considering many COVID-19 drug candidates currently in the pipeline are targeting TMPRSS2 or viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), researchers investigated several TMPRSS2 inhibitors, including nafamostat and camostat, and RdRp inhibitors such as remdesivir. Additionally, niclosamide and ciclesonide were studied. 
*Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, National Culture Collection for Pathogens, NCCP43326, NCCP43381, NCCP43382
TMPRSS2 inhibitors block SARS-CoV-2 from entering cells, and RdRp inhibitors interfere with the viral genome replication. 
The researchers explained that no mutation was found at or near the target sites of the analyzed drugs, thus these drugs were still effective in suppressing the replication of the two variants as well as the early SARS-CoV-2 isolate.
The result of this study accelerates the ongoing development of the COVID-19 therapeutics targeting TMPRSS2 and RdRp and helps to expand treatment strategies through follow-up studies.
Among the drugs analyzed, nafamostat, camostat, niclosamide, and ciclesonide are the drug candidates identified through the drug repositioning research of the IPK last year and currently in the development pipeline. IPK, in cooperation with domestic pharmaceutical companies, is conducting phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials of nafamostat overseas, including Mexico, Senegal, and Australia, and phase 2 clinical trials of camostat in Mexico.
Dr. Youngmee Jee, the IPK CEO, said, “IPK has pioneered the discovery of COVID-19 drug candidates utilizing its innovative image-based screening technology and is currently conducting multiple clinical trials of the identified drugs leveraging our broad international network. Integrating IPK’s core competencies, we are taking the lead in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic." Dr. Jee added, “This research aimed to help respond to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants, and we will continue to devote ourselves to contributing to the national and global infectious disease preparedness and response.”
The research was supported by national R&D projects, including the National Life and Safety Emergency Response Research funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.