Zephirus, an inhaled asthma medicine, has been proven effective against the novel coronavirus, South Korea’s healthcare product maker Huons Co. announced on Wednesday.
Huons has exclusive marketing rights to Zephirus, which was developed by Belgium-based Laboratoires SMB S.A., in Korea, and the drug is being repurposed as a potential Covid-19 cure in the Asian country.
In vitro experiment data show that Zephirus decreased the gene expression of the virus in human lung epithelial cell lines infected with Covid-19 variant, GH clade, widely found across Korea, the Korean drug company said.
The lab study findings followed a recent announcement by Oxford University researchers that commonly used asthma treatment budesonide reduces the need for hospitalizations as well as recovery time for Covid-19 patients if given within seven days of symptoms appearing.
Zephirus is a fixed-dose combination of budesonide and salmeterol.
The Covid-19 cure being developed as an inhaled formulation has the advantage of rapid action in the lungs without being absorbed through the digestive tract, Huons said.
Huons is preparing to evaluate the drug’s potential in an animal model and plans to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to Korean health authorities next month.
By Kim Byung-ho and Minu Kim
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