South Korea approved an early-stage clinical trial on Friday of Celltrion Inc’s experimental treatment drug COVID-19, making it the country’s first antibody drug to be tested in humans.

Drug makers worldwide are struggling to develop vaccines and treatments for the flu-like illness caused by the new coronavirus that has infected nearly 14 million people and killed more than 580,000 worldwide.

Celltrion antibody treatment is directed against the surface of the virus and is designed to prevent it from attaching to human cells.

The company plans to enroll 32 healthy volunteers in collaboration with a local hospital for the Phase I study of the drug, which showed up to a 100-fold reduction in viral load in animal testing.

Celltrion said that overseas human trials of its treatment will begin soon across Europe, including the UK, to be followed by the second and third global trials in patients with mild and moderate symptoms.

He anticipates primary results from these studies by the end of this year and aims to market the drug in early 2021, he said.

“Our human trials are carried out worldwide, so we will be able to export safely, but we will offer it to patients abroad only after securing national supplies for South Korea,” Kee Woo-sung told us, its executive director.

His antibody treatment was developed after it was identified from a blood sample taken from one of the first South Korean patients to recover from COVID-19 in February.

He said that drug makers should make the prices of their COVID-19 treatments affordable to help end the pandemic, adding that their drug prices will be cheaper than Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir. .

In June, Gilead valued its COVID-19 treatment remdesivir at $ 2,340 per patient for developed countries.

Other companies developing potential treatments for COVID-19 include Eli Lilly and Co, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc, and AbbVie.

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