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Theragen ETEX to develop treatment candidate for COVID-19

Lee Han-soo  Published 2020.03.18  17:41  Updated 2020.03.18 17:41

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Theragen ETEX said that it has found multiple drug candidates for treating COVID-19 using its artificial intelligence (AI) drug discovery platform and genomic analysis technology.

According to the company, it has recently conducted a drug repositioning screening study on 1,880 drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and discovered five candidates that may be able to treat the virus.

“The discovery of candidates for the treatment of COVID-19 proceeded differently than that of similar studies using protein structures of SARS or MERS viruses,” the company said. “This time, we increased the candidates’ accuracy and the possibility of development success as we discovered them by using our COVID-19 sequencing.”

Among the candidates that the company obtained in its preliminary research were drugs such as chloroquine, remdesivir, ribavirin, and favipiravir, which are currently in clinical trials as COVID-19 therapeutics, demonstrating the reliability of the study, Theragen ETEX said.

However, the company did not select any of the drugs as their final candidate.

The candidates on the final list included respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease treatments.

The company expected the treatment for respiratory diseases could relieve symptoms as well as show antiviral effects, and it could apply the treatment of cardiovascular illnesses to treating underlying cardiovascular patients, too.

Prior to this study, the company had selected two protein targets by analyzing the acting mechanism of COVID-19.

The first protein target is an ORF1ab main proteinase related to virus propagation, which the company selected through replication and translation of single-stranded RNA. Afterward, it added a spike protein as a target for virus penetration into the body.

Based on such findings, the company’s research team applied a molecular docking analysis method and deep learning-based binding prediction program and confirmed the binding between proteins and compounds.

Theragen ETEX plans to conduct drug efficacy tests with credible research institutes on the acquired candidates while discovering additional candidates through virtual screening of 12 other target proteins.

The company will also apply for the clinical trials of candidates with high success probability to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to receive early approval for these drugs candidates.

“Based on the results of this research, we will try to develop a treatment for COVID-19 and commercialize it early. At the same time, we will establish our genome database for viral infections and use them in the future,” said Oh Young-ho, director of Theragen ETEX’s new drug development center.

corea022@docdocdoc.co.kr

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