Image: Anti-COVID-19 drug contributes to faster recovery in hospital patients and reduces dependence on supplemental oxygen (Photo courtesy of DNA India)
Anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of the drug 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) has been shown to promote faster recovery in hospital patients and reduce dependence on supplemental oxygen in clinical trials.
2-DG’s anti-COVID therapeutic application was developed by the Indian Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a laboratory of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO; Delhi, India ), in collaboration with the laboratories of Dr Reddy (DRL; Hyderabad, India). A higher proportion of patients treated with 2-DG showed negative RT-PCR conversion in COVID-19 patients. The drug will be of immense benefit to those suffering from COVID-19.
In April 2020, scientists at INMAS-DRDO had conducted laboratory experiments and found that the molecule worked effectively against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and inhibited viral growth. Based on these results, the Phase 2 clinical trial of 2-DG was conducted in May 2020 to test the safety and effectiveness of the drug in COVID-19 patients. In Phase 2 trials (including the dose range) involving 110 patients conducted from May to October 2020, the drug was found to be safe for COVID-19 patients who showed significant improvement in recovery. The Phase 2a trial was conducted in six hospitals and the Phase 2b (dose varying) clinical trial was conducted in 11 hospitals across India.
In efficacy trends, patients treated with 2-DG showed symptomatic healing faster than standard of care (SoC) on various endpoints. A significantly favorable trend (difference of 2.5 days) was observed in terms of median time to normalization of specific parameters of vital signs compared to SoC. Based on the positive results, the Phase 3 clinical trial was conducted on 220 patients between December 2020 and March 2021 in 27 COVID hospitals in several Indian states. In the 2-DG arm, a significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence (42% vs. 31%) on day 3 compared to SoC, indicating early relief oxygen therapy / addiction. A similar trend was observed in patients over 65 years of age. On May 1, 2021, the DCGI authorized the emergency use of the drug as an adjunct to patients with moderate to severe COVID-19.
Being a generic molecule and a glucose analogue, the drug can be easily produced and made available in abundance. The medicine comes as a powder in a sachet and is taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in cells infected with the virus and prevents the growth of the virus by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in cells infected with the virus makes the drug unique. In the second wave of COVID-19, a large number of patients are facing severe dependence on oxygen and must be hospitalized. The drug is expected to save precious lives due to its mechanism of functioning in infected cells and also reduce the hospital stay for patients with COVID-19.