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Genexine's cytokine drug effective on severe Covid-19 patients
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.08.27 18:05
  • Updated 2020.08.27 18:05
  • comments 0

Genexine said Thursday that it has confirmed the safety and efficacy of long-acting interleukin-7 therapy on seriously ill Covid-19 patients.

The number of T cells went significantly lower in critically ill Covid-19 patients, leading to a higher fatality rate, according to Genexine. Interleukin-7 is a non-redundant cytokine, and it is the only T cell proliferation factor that increases the number of T cells. It is under clinical development for cancer and Covid-19 patients.

In a recent clinical study of severe Covid-19 patients in the U.K., the company confirmed that interleukin-7 restored the number of T cells while not causing side effects, such as cytokine storm.

The rate of secondary infection also remained at 58 percent among patients who received interleukin-7 therapy, far lower than the comparable rate of 85 percent among those who underwent only regular treatment.

Most of the existing Covid-19 therapies suppress the proliferation or function of the virus. However, interleukin-7 is the first drug to increase T cell counts to fight against the virus, the company said.

GX-I7, another interleukin-7 treatment being developed by Genexine and its spinoff NeoImmunTech based in the U.S., is a long-acting interleukin-7. It has been proven to increase the number of T cells and anticancer efficacy as immunotherapy in animal studies and various oncologic clinical trials, according to the biotech company.

"We expect our interleukin-7 therapy to prevent progression or fatality in patients with Covid-19 through mono or combination therapy with other existing treatments," Genexine CEO Sung Young-chul said.

Clinical trials of GX-17 in Covid-19 patients are undergoing in the U.S. with NeoImmuneTech's lead, and the drug has recently won domestic investigational new drug approval, the company said.


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