By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion Inc. announced Monday that positive results were shown for its treatment for the novel coronavirus in animal testing.
The company said its antiviral antibody treatment showed a 100-fold reduction in the viral load of SARS-CoV-2, the virus known to be causing COVID-19, in an animal model.
Celltrion also said the treatment candidate showed improvement in lung lesions to a normal activity level in animals.
The antiviral activity at the pre-clinical stage indicates that the candidate could be a potential treatment for COVID-19 if the results are replicated in clinical trials for humans, according to officials.
"Celltrion hopes to commence first-in-human clinical trials in July and has the capability to roll out mass production of the therapeutic antibody treatment once it is ready," Kwon Ki-Sung, head of the R&D unit at Celltrion, said in a press release.
A number of local pharmaceutical companies have joined the global race to develop a vaccine and treatment for COVID-19, but none of them yet have received approval for clinical trials for vaccine or treatment candidates from the country's drug safety agency.
The country reported 35 more cases of COVID-19 due mainly to infections tied to a logistics center in a city just west of Seoul, raising the total caseload to 11,503, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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