Byoung Joo Gwag, CEO & President of GNT Pharma profile

Byoung Joo Gwag
CEO & President of GNT Pharma

Byoung Joo Gwag, CEO & President of GNT Pharma Certificate

“Creating Life Saving Drugs”

Byoung Joo Gwag is the CEO and President of GNT Pharma and Adjunct Professor at the College of Life Science and Biotechnology of Yonsei University in South Korea. For the last three decades, he has investigated mechanisms and interventional strategies of neuronal cell death leading to disability and death of patients with stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, publishing more than 90 papers and holding many worldwide patents. He formulated drug discovery programs with the idea of multi-target drugs selective for stroke and AD. Nelonemdaz and crisdesalazine were discovered as drug candidates for treating stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and have been successfully advanced to the clinical stage.

Byoung Joo Gwag received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Drexel University School of Medicine in 1993 and had investigated neuronal cell apoptosis and necrosis at Dr. Dennis W. Choi’s lab, Washington University School of Medicine, for 1993-1995. He had served as a professor at the Department of Pharmacology, Ajou University School of Medicine from 1995-2010. He founded GNT Pharma with his colleagues in 1993 and has led drug discovery programs for stroke and AD.

He unveiled the dark side of neurotrophic factors that potentiate excitotoxic and oxidative neuronal necrosis, key pathological mechanisms in stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Such findings were surprising, for neurotrophic factors had been explored as promising drug candidates to treat such neurological diseases. It turns out that neurotrophic factors prevent apoptosis or programmed cell death, but not necrosis. This led him to dissect excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, and apoptosis as major routes of neuronal death that causes catastrophic disability and mortality in stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. He has pioneered multi-target drug discovery programs for stroke and AD over the last 25 years. He and his colleagues discovered two multi-target drugs for stroke and AD. He has established strong research and business networks to better translate the multi-target drugs with scientists, business partners, and investors who believe, support, and collaborate for the successful development of nelonemdaz and crisdesalazine.

"GNT Pharma’s multi-target drug candidates were derived from novel findings that aspirin and sulfasalazine, salicylate derivatives widely used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, protected neurons as a low affinity NMDA receptor antagonist and antioxidant."

The drug candidates of GNT Pharma were derived from novel findings that aspirin and sulfasalazine, salicylate derivatives widely used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, protected neurons as a low affinity NMDA receptor antagonist and antioxidant. Through the rational drug design, GNT Pharma had discovered chemical structures essential for neuroprotective effects and established novel chemical libraries with promising efficacy and safety that are enough to advance to clinical stage. Among them, nelonemdaz was designed to prevent both excess activation of NMDA receptors and free radicals, two separate routes of neuronal death in stroke and also traumatic brain/spinal cord injury. Crisdesalazine was developed as a multi-target drug to remove free radicals and PGE2-(microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1) mediated inflammation, the key pathological mediators of nerve injury in AD and neurodegenerative diseases.

Nelonemdaz showed remarkable neuroprotection efficacy in animal models of transient occlusion of middle cerebral artery (MCAO), permanent MCAO, transient cardiac arrest, and spinal cord injury. In human, safety of nelonemdaz was proven through two phase I studies for 165 healthy subjects in the US and China. Two phase II studies for 447 acute ischemic stroke patients in South Korea and China revealed that administration of nelonemdaz substantially reduced disability in stroke patients treated with thrombolytic drugs or endovascular thrombectomy without adverse events. Another phase II trial of nelonemdaz has been conducted for patients with transient cardiac arrest. The company has initiated two phase III studies: one for 948 ischemic stroke patients receiving thrombolytic drugs in China and the other for 496 patients receiving endovascular thrombectomy within 12 hours of onset in South Korea.

Crisdesalazine reduces amyloid plaques, tauopathy, and neuronal death, the pathological hallmarks of AD, in cell culture and animal models. Efficacy of crisdesalazine has been verified in animal models of Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Clinical trials for old dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (dog dementia pathologically and clinically similar to AD) demonstrated significant benefit of crisdesalazine that improved cognitive function and slowed down disease progression.

The company have decided to go public in order to advance key clinical trials to new drug approval and approved drugs to the global market. Gedacure (crisdesalazine) has been prescribed to treat dog dementia in South Korea since May 2021, and its demand is greatly increasing. “We have been conducting late clinical trials of nelonemdaz for patients with stroke and cardiac arrest,” says Byoung Joo Gwag. “With breakthrough results of approval and marketing of Gedacure for dog dementia and promising efficacy of nelonemdaz for stroke patients, we plan on going public with an initial public offering that could occur before the end of 2021.” IE


GNT Pharma


Byoung Joo Gwag
CEO & President of GNT Pharma


Global Neurotech (GNT) Pharma is a technologies for patients with neurological and inflammatory diseases.

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