Industry Press Releases

Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) Develops a New Drug for Alzheimer's Disease

Thursday, Aug 10, 2017

As the world population is aging, the top priority of leading countries is to come up with solutions that can overcome dementia. Currently, a handful of anti-dementia drugs are used. But most of them just temporarily alleviate symptoms. Recently, there has been a series of failures of global candidate drugs that have been developed based on the conventional treatment mechanism. Due to the failures, now is a good time to develop a drug based on the root cause of dementia.

Through a fruitful collaboration, scientists at KIST, Ki-Duk Park, C. Justin Lee, and Ae-Nim Pae, developed a drug candidate for dementia with excellent drug-like properties and efficacy. The drug candidate (KDS2010) was based on the previous findings that reactive astrocytes, commonly found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, generate and secrete GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, causing memory impairment and cognitive impairment (Nature Medicine, 2014).

This synthetic drug developed by the researchers is a substance that can reduce the amount of abnormally produced GABA. It is a drug candidate that can dramatically improve memory and cognitive impairment of Alzheimer's disease patients.

* GABA: One of the transmitters of the central nervous system of mammals with strong inhibitory effect on neuronal excitability.

Researchers dissolved the drug in water and fed the mice that are genetically modified to mimic Alzheimer's disease. They conducted Morris water maze and passive avoidance experiments to check the mice's memory. They found that cognitive functions of the Alzheimer's mice returned to the normal state. Furthermore, long-term administration of a low dose (1mg/kg) of the drug led to a long-lasting improvement in cognitive functions, even up to 4 weeks of treatment. This is in great contrast to the existing drugs, whose early efficacy is excellent but long-term administration has low efficacy. Furthermore, according to the results of verifying ADME/Tox, the drug candidate effectively transferred to the brain through oral intake and had drug-like properties without biotoxicity and any side effects on other nervous system.

This drug candidate provides a fundamental treatment option for cognitive function disorders through an entirely new treatment regime. So far it has been tested for long-term efficacy and toxicity. Currently, non-clinical trials are conducted at the GLP level. This could turn out to be a next-generation global drug for Alzheimer's disease through immediate clinical trials.

On the 31st of May, Byeonggwon Lee, the president of KIST and Sangmin Park, CEO of MegaBioWood, an affiliate of KEMIMEDI(CEO, Geonseop Choi) had a signing ceremony for the technology transfer on "Drug Candidate for Alzheimer's disease" at the KIST Seoul Campus. The total amount of the technology transfer contract was for 6 million US dollars, including $500,000 upfront payment and 5.5 million US dollars as a milestone technology payment. The running royalty was signed for 3% of net sales.

KIST (Korea Institute of Science and Technology)

Dr. C Justin Lee
Tel. +82-2-958-6940

Dr. Ki-Duk Park
Tel. +82-2-958-5132



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