Korean pharmaceutical and biotech companies keep challenging to develop neurology medicines, which has been a difficult task even for multinational drugmakers.
Medifron DBT, Dong-A ST, Medipost, Boryung Pharmaceutical, Ildong Pharmaceutical, Daewoong Pharmaceutical, SK Chemicals, and SK Biopharmaceuticals are working on treatments in neurology disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of them are conducting clinical trials not only in Korea but in foreign countries to target the global market.
Medifron has Alzheimer’s-targeting pipelines such as MDR-1703, MDR-066, and MDR-1339. MDR-1703 and MDR-066 are in a preclinical phase, and MDR-1339 is ready to be tested in phase-2.
Dong-A ST is pinning hope on DA-9803, a new investigational drug using herbal extracts. The company licensed-out the agent’s license to U.S. firm NeuroBo Pharmaceuticals, which is preparing a phase-2 study on the therapeutic in the U.S.
Medipost’s next growth item is Neurostem, which won the U.S. approval for a phase-1/2a study. The drug uses a mesenchymal stem cell derived from the blood of the umbilical cord. In Korea, the company is testing it in a phase-1/2a trial.
Boryung Pharmaceutical is aiming to create a new type of donepezil-containing drug.
The company is developing a patch using donepezil, a treatment prescribed the most for Alzheimer’s disease, in a microneedle patch. The drug candidate is called BNY-003, which is in a local phase-1 trial.
Ildong Pharmaceutical has begun a phase-2 trial on ID-1201, and Daewoong Pharm, a phase-1 study for a donepezil patch.
SK Chemicals is testing SK-PC-370M in a phase-3 study for curing Alzheimer’s. Its non-listed subsidiary SK Biopharmaceuticals is checking YKP10461’s efficacy and safety in the U.S. to treat Parkinson’s disease.
Although domestic pharmaceutical companies are concentrating their efforts to develop medicines to cure intractable diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, some observers were skeptical because multinational drugmakers’ similar attempts have failed or discontinued.
Recently, AstraZeneca and Lilly announced that they would stop their joint effort to develop a new drug for Alzheimer’s.
The two companies said they made such decision because their phase-3 study would fail to prove the drug’s efficacy for patients with mild and moderate Alzheimer’s.
A U.S. company vTv Therapeutics also announced the discontinuation of a phase-3 trial on Azeliragon, a new drug candidate for Alzheimer’s. Johnson & Johnson decided to terminate the trials of BACE (beta-secretase) inhibitor atabacestat due to safety issues.