2-Deoxy-D- Glucose (2DG), the first drug to be termed as anti Covid druig, has been extensively tested for treating cancer, but is so far unapproved for cancer treatment. However, when it comes to treating Covid-19, the drug shows promise. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, apex drug controller of the country, has allowed this drug for emergency use among Covid-19 patients.
The drug accumulates in virus-infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping viral synthesis and energy production. Its selective accumulation in virally-infected cells makes this drug unique. The Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab of the DRDO, in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Hyderabad, has been studying this drug, in the context of radiation therapy for cancer.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
The basic mechanism of the drug involves inhibiting glycolysis, one of the ways in which cells break down glucose for energy. This approach, while used to starve and kill cancer cells, could also work in inhibiting virus cells that are dependent on glycolysis for replication.
The way the drug functions is supposed to arrest any variant as a multiplying virus, irrespective of variant, will need food and thus will get trapped by the drug.
When the pandemic broke out in India, INMAS, DRDO and DRL switched their efforts to explore using this drug to defeat Covid.
Clinical trial results have shown that this molecule helps in faster recovery of hospitalised patients and reduces supplemental oxygen dependence. The drug will be of immense benefit to people suffering from Covid-19. As per clinical data for efficacy trends, the patients treated with the 2-DG showed faster symptomatic cure than standard of care (SOC) on various endpoints. A significantly higher proportion of patients improved symptomatically and became free from supplemental oxygen dependence (42 per cent vs 31 per cent) by day three in comparison to SOC, indicating an early relief from oxygen therapy/ dependence.
The drug will be available in sachets, which are to be stored below 25 degree Celsius. Like glucose powder, this drug can be taken with water, twice a day. A Covid-19 patient may have to take this drug for five to seven days to get completely cured.
With this drug we may be able to reduce the burden of Covid-19 and save as many lives as possible. Having said that, precaution is a must. No Covid-19 medication should be taken without a doctor’s prescription.
(Dr Naresh Purohit is Executive Member of the Association of Studies For Nuclear Medicine. He is also advisor to National Universal Immunisation Programme and National Communicable Disease Control Programme. Dr Purohit is also Advisor to six other National Health Programmes. He is visiting Professor in five Medical Universities of Southern India including Thrissur based Kerala University of Health Sciences. (The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author)