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21.01.04 [JW Pharmaceutical] JW Pharmaceutical secures the rights to own and use the animal test results of ‘CWP291’ on COVID-19 from Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB)


- Inhibition of GRP78, which is considered as the main route of COVID-19 infection…excellent improvement rate in lung lesion and virus reduction effect confirmed even at low doses

- GRP78 acts as a pathway in COVID-19 and other RNA virus host infections…also reported as one of the etiologies of various lung disease related to the expression of infection and replication.

- Phase 2 clinical trial and license-out expected in the future…will fulfill the role as a pharmaceutical company to overcome COVID-19.

December of 2020.

JW Pharmaceutical’s CWP291 showed excellent antiviral effect in an animal model of novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19).

JW Pharmaceutical announced on the 30th that it has signed an Agreement with the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) to transfer the rights to own and use the study results of CWP291 on the COVID-19 infected animal models.

According to the Agreement, JW Pharmaceutical will initiate a follow-up development based on the study results of CWP291 for COVID-19 infected hamsters conducted by the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB) (Director Jang-Sung Kim).

As a result of the efficacy evaluation of the recently completed CWP291 for COVID-19 infected ‘Syrian Hamster’, CWP291 showed about twice (41.3%~48.9%) higher improvement in lung lesions compared to the control, Remdesivir (24.8%) even when administered at a low dose.

In addition, in the preliminary test phase of the hamster model, the improvement in lung lesions approaching 90% was confirmed when co-administered with Remdesivir. Thus, a test for the dose-dependent combination effect of CWP291 with Remdesivir is being conducted.

The excellent reduction effect of CWP291 was also confirmed by the amount of virus remaining in the lung tissues (PCR). On the 5th day after virus infection, it was decreased by 53% (0.47) in Remdesivir group and up to 88% (0.12) in CWP291 group compared to the COVID-19 infected group (reference 1). The peak of the virus is on the 5th day after infection in the hamster animal model and it recovers naturally. This can be considered as the result obtained by inhibiting GRP78 related to the hypothesis of COVID-10 infection and replication expression by CWP291.

CWP291 is a first-in-class candidate that inhibits the signaling pathway of Wnt/β-catenin, which is involved in cancer cell growth and cancer stem cells. Based on the BRP78 binding mechanism and safety margin of CWP291 identified in the existing phase 1 clinical trial of a target anticancer drug, JW Pharmaceutical reviewed the potential as a COVID-19 treatment from various directions.

According to the Journal of infection, an international academic journal published in March and September, it is reported that blocking the binding of the spike protein (projection) rising on the surface of COVID-19 and the protein GRP78 in the human body inhibits virus entry and replication, suggesting the potential of GRP78 as a target for treatment of COVID-19 infection. In addition, many other academic data have reported that GRP78 is a host factor for other single-stranded RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses such as MERS, Dengue, Zika, and Japanese encephalitis.

Moreover, as an equal or higher antifibrotic effect has been confirmed compared to the existing drugs in an animal model efficacy evaluation of CWP291 with pulmonary fibrosis indication, which terminated earlier this year, JW Pharmaceutical expected that it will help treat lung disease related to COVID-19. Based on this result, JW Pharmaceutical has already applied for a patent as a treatment for pulmonary fibrosis in June.

JW Pharmaceutical plans to begin a phase 2 clinical trial for patients with COVID-19 in the future.

Seong-Yeol Lee, CEO of JW Pharmaceutical said, “CWP291 has a mechanism that directly inhibits GRP78, which is known as a host factor for various RNA viruses including COVID-19”. He added, “Followed by cell testing, as animal model evaluation also confirmed the possibility of development as a COVID-19 treatment, we will fulfill the role of a pharmaceutical company to overcome COVID-19 by promoting clinical trials, license-out, and joint research”.