Investigational cancer med politaxel explored as potential COVID-19 cure in Korea

2020.06.23 14:51:14 | 2020.06.23 14:51:44

CN Pharm CEO Park Kwang-sik. [Photo by Han Joo-hyung]이미지 확대

CN Pharm CEO Park Kwang-sik. [Photo by Han Joo-hyung]

CN Pharm, the majority shareholder of Kosdaq-listed Hyundai Bio, has redirected oncology research to explore the potential of its investigational cancer drug politaxel as a COVID-19 treatment.

Recent cytotoxicity tests demonstrated significant effects, raising hope for the drug’s potential use to improve coronavirus symptoms, CN Pharm CEO Park Kwang-sik told Maeil Business Newspaper last week.

Although it is widely known that anticancer drugs have excellent antiviral efficacy, it has been difficult to use them as antiviral therapies because of toxicity-related side effects. CN Pharm’s politaxel is a capsulized formulation of docetaxel, a leading chemotherapy drug used to treat a wide range of solid tumors including pancreatic cancer, but it is less toxic and better dissolved in the blood than docetaxel.

In recent preclinical tests, politaxel toxicity was found to be only one-23rd of that of docetaxel. It is exceptionally low enough to be nicknamed “pain-free chemo.”

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Based on these results, CN Pharm aims to expand the drug’s indications to kill viral diseases such as COVID-19, AIDS, SARS and MERS on top of solid tumors.

Politaxel, which combines docetaxel and polymer carriers, has a mechanism of action to suppress viral infection and proliferation by blocking the microtubule, the major entry of viruses into cells. The trapezoidal microtubule cytoskeleton, which is important to establish virus infection, is one of the most effective targets for the development of anticancer agents.

CN Pharm plans to file an IND application for clinical trials in pancreatic cancer patients and those infected COVID-19 within this year, Park said, adding he expects a full-fledged clinical trial of politaxel to begin next year.

By Seo Jin-woo and Minu Kim

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