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DRDO’s Anti-COVID Drug Named 2DG Cleared For Emergency Use In India By DCGI: All You Need To Know

With the start of the second wave of COVID-19 infection in India in February 2021, the total cases as of today are 2.23 crores, with 1.83 recovered cases and 2.42 lakhs deaths.

As the number of coronavirus cases is increasing day by day, scientists and researchers in the country are paving the way to developing new treatment methods to deal with the life-threatening symptoms of the infection, and to reduce the mortality rate in the country.

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As per a recent announcement by the Union government, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has cleared a new drug named 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) for emergency use in India.

So, what is 2-DG, how it is used and is it effective for COVID-19? Take a look at the details.

What Is 2DG?

2DG stands for 2-deoxy-D-glucose; it is a new oral anti-COVID drug developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories. [1]

The drug is meant to be used as an adjunct therapy, meaning it could be used along with the primary treatment to minimise the dependence on medical oxygen by the COVID hospitalised patients and help in their quick recovery.

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According to the reports, 2DG is known to have no major side effects in the clinical trial and could be effective in treating the patients successfully. Also, this alternative therapy is recommended for patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 infections.

How Is 2DG Consumed And How Does It Work?

According to the reports, the 2DG drug comes in powdered form in sachets. It is taken orally by dissolving the drug in water. According to the official statement by the Government of India, the drug when ingested, accumulates in the coronavirus infected cells and prevents their growth by ceasing viral synthesis and energy production.

Reports say that patients who were administered 2DG have become free from supplemental oxygen dependence and recovered quicker, compared to Standard of Care (SoC) for coronavirus.

A difference of 2.5-3 days was seen in achieving the normalisation in COVID-19 hospitalised patients who were given the drug, compared to those who were not given.

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A study published in Pubchem has shown that 2-deoxyglucose is an investigating drug that is studied for its antiviral, anticancer and anticonvulsant activities. The antiviral activity of the drug affects the virus ability to penetrate cells in the case of herpes simplex virus, the anticancer activity causes cell cycle inhibition and cell death in infected tissues, while the anticonvulsant effect tends to repress the expression of certain proteins which are high after the seizures.

This shows that 2DG, which is also composed of 2-deoxyglucose, could help inhibit the viral multiplication in the human cells and reduce the effect of their spiked proteins. [2]

About The Research

The research on 2DG started in April 2020, when the first wave hit the country. The research was started by INMAS-DRDO scientists with the help of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

During the research, the scientists found that the glucose molecules in 2DG worked effectively against the COVID-19 virus and inhibited their growth.

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Based on the successful first clinical trial results, the DCGI has permitted its second phase clinical trial in May 2020. During the second trial period conducted between May and October 2020, the 2DG was found to be safe and effective in improving the oxygen supply in severely infected patients and thus, reducing the need for oxygen cylinders.

The DRDO also mentioned that the Phase 2a trial was conducted in six hospitals and Phase 2b trial, which was dose-dependent, in 11 hospitals around the country, overall on 110 patients.

Is 2DG Effective?

The sudden surge in COVID cases since February has caused a huge demand for medical oxygen cylinders, leading to their shortage in the country. This has increased the mortality rate in the country.

The new anti-COVID drug 2DG developed recently may help in the faster recovery of the patients. The drug may be available in a month as it is easy to produce due to its generic molecule and analogue of glucose.

According to Dr Sudhir Chandna, a scientist at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), Dr Reddy's Laboratories (Hyderabad) is the industry partner who will work together with DRDO to increase the manufacturing of the drug.

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To Conclude

COVID-19 infection primarily infects the respiratory system and causes shortness of breath. When the lungs get infected with the virus, its cells lose the ability to absorb oxygen from the air, thus causing the deficiency of oxygen in the body and buildup of fluids inside the lungs.

As the second wave of COVID-19 has started, scientists believe that the virus in this wave has mutated and is affecting people at a faster rate, one of the reasons why people are getting affected sooner, leading to the sudden surge in the demand of oxygen supply.

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With the advent of this new drug for COVID-19 patients, we hope that more lives will be saved now. The 2DG can save lives by fulfilling the need for medical oxygen supply in the country, reducing the oxygen dependency in hospitalised patients and thus, reducing the need for hospitalisation.