What Is the New 2-DG Drug by DRDO and How Does It Help COVID-19 Patients?

What Is the New 2-DG Drug by DRDO and How Does It Help COVID-19 Patients?

With India currently going through a challenging second phase of the coronavirus, a drug known as 2-DG (2-deoxy-D-glucose) will soon reach patients across the country to boost recovery and also reduce oxygen dependence among critical patients. 

This drug has been jointly developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), which is a lab belonging to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), along with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Hyderabad. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved this drug for emergency use among moderate to severe COVID-19 patients as an adjunct therapy.

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When will 2-DG be available? 

The Central Government has said that this drug will be available at hospitals starting June, with the DRDO Chairman, Dr G Satheesh Reddy saying, “From June onwards it will be made available to all hospitals.”

The Centre says that mass-producing this drug is fairly easy as it is a generic molecule and an analogue of glucose. Moreover, taking 2-DG is pretty simple as it comes in a powdered form that can be dissolved in water for oral consumption.  

How effective is this drug?

A media release issued by the government states that the drug accumulates in the cells infected by the virus and prevents further virus growth by halting viral synthesis and energy production. The DRDO Chairman has said that this medication will also work on the numerous mutant strains of COVID-19.

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What are the results from the trials?

Scientists from the DRDO and INMAS started experiments with the assistance of the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) in April 2020 and later found that the active molecule in this drug is fairly effective in fighting COVID-19 and stunting viral growth. These results led to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization of the DGCI permitting Phase II trials.

Phase II trials were conducted among 110 patients between May and October 2020 with results showing that the drug was safe for use. COVID-19 patients that received the drug demonstrated faster symptomatic cure as compared to patients in the standard care group. 

This eventually led to the DGCI permitting Phase III trials that were conducted on 220 patients between December 2020 and March 2021 across 27 COVID-19 hospitals in multiple states. The results showed that patients in the 2-DG group saw symptomatic improvements while also reducing dependence on supplemental oxygen as compared to the standard care group. This trend was also witnessed among patients over the age of 65 years, a media release said. 

How much will 2-DG cost?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of clarity on this front with DRDO’s Dr Sudhir Chandna saying that the price will depend on the level of production. “Those factors are with Dr Reddy's Laboratories who are our industry partners,” he added while speaking with ANI. One expects the drug to be inexpensive and widely used across the country’s hospitals to help decongest critical care units. 

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