As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, the Drugs Controller General of India has approved an oral drug developed by the DRDO for emergency usage. The anti-COVID-19 medication can be used as adjunct therapy in moderate to severe patients. According to the Defence Ministry, the 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) drug was developed in collaboration with Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Laboratories.
According to officials, the 2-DG drug had been shown to help ensure faster recovery of hospitalised patients as well as reducing supplemental oxygen dependence during clinical trials. The drug accumulates in infected cells, preventing virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. The Defence Ministry contends that its selective accumulation in virally-infected cells makes this drug unique.
The drug has been developed by Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a leading laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories in Hyderabad. It comes in a powdered form in sachets and has to be consumed orally after dissolving in water. According to Dr Sudhir Chandna of the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, work on the drug had begun over a year ago, in April 2020.
"On May 01, DCGI granted permission for emergency use of this drug as adjunct therapy in moderate to severe COVID-19 patients. Being a generic molecule and analogue of glucose, it can be easily produced and made available in plenty in the country," the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier in April 2020, during the first wave of pandemic INMAS-DRDO scientists conducted laboratory experiments with the help of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad and found that this molecule works effectively against SARS-CoV-2 virus and inhibits viral growth. Based on these results, DCGI- CDSCO permitted Phase-II clinical trial of 2-DG in COVID-19 patients in May 2020.
Later, the DCGI further permitted the Phase-III clinical trials in November 2020. The Phase-III clinical trial was conducted on 220 patients during Dec 2020 to March 2021 at 27 COVID hospitals situated in states of Delhi, UP, West Bengal, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The detailed data of phase-III clinical trial was presented to DCGI.
(With inputs from agencies)