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Korean researchers to develop stroke medicine in 2010
February 4, 2005
Korean researchers are expected to develop the world's first medicine for stroke around 2010.
Dr. Gwag Byoung-joo, professor of Ajou University's medical school, said on January 24 that his research team has finished animal testing for Neu 2000, a substance used for protecting cerebral cells and preventing the blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain with blood. "After about 10 years of domestic research and experiments, we are able to start clinical experiments in the U.S. in September," the 46-year-old professor said. Clinical demonstrations will be conducted by Quintiles Transnational, a U.S. clinical experiment company, under the direction of Chung Y. Hsu, dean of medical college, Taipei University.
Amkor, an American funding company, will provide the experiments with 35 billion won. Gwag will transfer the technology to U.S. pharmaceutical firm Merck in 2007 when they finish clinical experiments on stroke patients.
After conducting additional clinical demonstrations with more patients, Merck will develop Neu 2000 into a new drug and start selling the world's first stroke medicine around 2010-2012.
The currently used thrombolytic agent, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), is effective only when applied within three hours of a stroke, but Neu 2000 can take effect within 36 hours, Gwag said. "Neu 2000, which was based on aspirin, prevents secretion of glutamate and oxygen free radicals, which are secreted when a stroke occurs," the professor said.
Currently, there is no medicine officially approved worldwide for curing stroke. A Japanese drug Edarabone, which has failed to get global approval, is used only in Japan and has shown some fatal side effects. "Neu 2000 has already got patents in the U.S. and Europe, and it is 1,000 times more efficient in preventing the action of oxygen free radicals," Gwag said.
Considering the annual sales of Edarabone in Japan have reached 300 billion won, global sales of the stroke drug is expected to be 3 trillion won. There are an estimated 40 million stroke patients in the world.