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South Korean firm trying cell therapy to develop COVID-19 drug

By Nam Gyeong-sik, UPI News Korea
South Korea’s GC Lab Cell announced Monday that it was working to develop COVID-19 drugs based on cell therapy. The company aims to start a clinical test late this year. Photo courtesy of GC Lab Cell
South Korea’s GC Lab Cell announced Monday that it was working to develop COVID-19 drugs based on cell therapy. The company aims to start a clinical test late this year. Photo courtesy of GC Lab Cell

SEOUL, March 30 (UPI) -- An increasing number of South Korean companies are joining a worldwide effort to develop drugs to treat the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

GC Lab Cell, an affiliate of the country's top-tier biopharma firm Green Cross, announced Monday that it would use cell therapy technology to try to develop COVID-19 cures.

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The company has worked on anti-cancer cell therapies based on natural killer cells. The idea is to make the immune system play a more significant role in dealing with tumors.

GC Lab Cell aims to start a clinical test late this year, as it has accumulated some knowledge from researching cell therapies for cancers, it said.

Last week, GC Lab Cell's cross-city rival, Celltrion, said that it would begin a human clinical trial of a COVID-19 treatment in July.

The South Korean government is also taking part in the global efforts to find an answer to COVID-19 by repurposing existing drugs used to treat other diseases.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Friday that it had issued authorization of drugs such as remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine for clinical tests.

The former is designed to treat Ebola, while the latter is a malaria medicine.

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In addition to this, the ministry approved the use of six influenza treatments -- which are undergoing clinical trials -- for coronavirus care.

Over the past few months, the coronavirus has sickened more than 700,000 people across the world and killed at least 35,000. The virus was first detected in China and has since spread to neighboring countries, with both Europe and the United States now dealing with mass infections.

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