Institut Pasteur Korea embarks on development of tapeworm medication for COVID-19 treatment

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : April 14, 2020, 14:55 | Updated : April 14, 2020, 14:55

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- Institut Pasteur Korea, an infectious disease-focused research institute, has embarked on a co-research mission with a subsidiary of South Korea's major bioengineering company Daewoong Pharmaceutical to develop niclosamide, a tapeworm treatment medicine sold under the brand name Niclocide, as COVID-19 medication.

Currently, medical organizations and pharmaceutical companies around the world are putting everything into the development of vaccines and treatment for COVID-19. Remdesivir, an ebola drug, and chloroquine, a medication used to prevent and treat malaria, are being studied worldwide for their anti-viral effect against the coronavirus.

Institut Pasteur Korea said in a statement on Tuesday that through a drug re-creation process, researchers have found that the anti-viral effect of niclosamide in the tapeworm drug is 40 times stronger than remdesivir and up to 26 times stronger than chloroquine.

Niclosamide basically starves tapeworms to death by inhibiting the glucose uptake, oxidative phosphorylation and anaerobic metabolism. It has shown similar metabolic effects against a wide range of organisms such as land slugs, aquatic parasites and microorganisms. The medication is currently being researched for its effectiveness against various types of cancer.

Daewoong Therapeutics and the Korea Research Institue of Bioscience and Biotechnology will seek approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to carry out clinical trials in July after testing the effectiveness of niclosamide on primates.

In February, Institut Pasteur Korea regarded ciclesonide, a glucocorticoid used to treat asthma, as the most plausible drug for COVID-19 after its researchers confirmed the asthma drug's anti-viral effects.
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