India could get its first indigenously-developed drug to cure mild and moderately-infected COVID-19 patients by the end of the year.
iSera Biological, a little-known biosciences company near Maharashtra’s Kolhapur, is testing a drug which promises to turn coronavirus-infected people RT-PCR negative in 72 to 90 hours.
The drug is undergoing phase 1 human trials which are likely to be completed by August-end, officials of the company told The Indian Express.
iSera Biological, which mainly produces anti-serum products for snake bites, rabies and diphtheria, claims to have developed a potent cocktail of COVID-19 antibodies with assistance from Serum Institute of India (SII).
When the drug is administered to a mild or moderately ill corona patient, it prevents the virus from spreading further in the body and neutralises the existing virus.
“As of now, it does look like a promising drug. The principles on which it is based are well-established. We will have to wait for the results of human trials. If found effective, it will be a very suitable drug, especially for a country like India. I think this would be a very affordable drug, compared to a few similar international products that are available,” former Indian Council of Medical Research director general Prof. N K Ganguly said.
“The process is similar to giving a vaccine. Horses are injected with specific antigens so that they can develop the antibodies. The antibodies are the same as the ones the human body makes to fight the Covid-19 virus. The antibodies are harvested from the horses and then put through a very high-quality purification process, so that the end product is at least 95 per cent pure antibodies,” iSera Biologicals Director (New Products) Nandkumar Kadam said.
The injection has to be administered at an early stage. It will be cheaper than international products.
Combined phase 2 and 3 clinical trials are being targeted in September and October.