Union defence minister Rajnath Singh today released the first batch of the anti-Covid-19 drug, 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), which has been granted emergency approval by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). The anti-Covid oral drug has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO's) leading laboratory -- Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) -- in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories.
Singh said the anti-Covid drug will prove effective against coronavirus, and is a great example of the scientific prowess of India. He said this drug is a new ray of hope for India. "But right now, we can neither relax nor do we need to get tired and stop. Because this wave has come for the second time, and nothing's certain even after this. We have to be cautious," he said.
How was 2-DG developed? How were clinical trials conducted?
DRDO Project Director and Scientist of 2-DG, Dr Sudhir Chandana has said that when the pandemic hit India in April 2020, they discovered that 2-DG halts the spread of COVID-19 inside the body cells. "After the findings, we asked the DCGI for permission to conduct clinical trials," he said. In May 2020, the DRDO received permission to conduct the clinical trials. The phase 2 trials were concluded in October 2020.
The results showed that in terms of improvement of vital signs of COVID-19 symptomatic patients, there was a difference of 2.5 days compared to Standard of Care (SoC). Approval for Phase - III clinical trials were granted in November 2020. These were conducted in 27 COVID-19 hospitals spread across several states. "Clinical trial results have shown that this molecule helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence," an official DRDO statement had explained earlier.
How 2-DG controls COVID-19?
The DRDO-developed 2 DG drug spreads through the body like glucose. It reaches the virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and destroys the protein's energy production. The drug also works on virus infection spread into lungs, which helps decrease patient's dependability on oxygen.
How will 2-DG be manufactured?
The DRDO stated that the 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) drug can easily be produced in India and made available in plenty as it is a generic molecule and analogue of glucose.
How can 2-DG be consumed?
The anti-COVID drug 2-DG has been developed in powder form and is ingested orally by dissolving it in water. As per Dr Sudhir Chandna, DRDO Project Director and Scientist of 2-DG, it can be consumed twice a day. A patient may have to take this drug twice a day for about five to seven days. However, it should be consumed only on the advice of a doctor.
What's the price of 2-DG?
The final price of 2-DG has not been finalised as yet. It will be determined by the DRDO partner Dr Reddy's, which is manufacturing the medicine. It is, however, believed to be a cheap drug.