Scientist Linqi Zhang shows a tube with a solution containing COVID-19 antibodies in his lab at Tsinghua University’s Research Center for Public Health in Beijing, China, March 30, 2020.Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter
New Delhi: The CSIR – Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) Lucknow, has received permission for carrying out clinical trials of antiviral drug Umifenovir for treating coronavirus patients, a statement said on Thursday.
The Phase III clinical trials will be carried out at King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences (RMLIMS) and ERA’s Lucknow Medical College & Hospital, Lucknow, it added.
The drug has a good safety profile and acts by preventing entry of viruses into human cells and also by priming the immune system, it added.
Umifenovir is mainly used for the treatment of influenza and is available in China and Russia, and has recently come into prominence due to its potential use for COVID-19 patients.
To evaluate its efficacy in Indian patients, CSIR-CDRI has taken up the clinical trial.
Further, it has developed the process technology for Umifenovir in record time and licensed the economical process technology for manufacturing and marketing the drug to M/s. Medizest Pharmaceuticals Private Ltd. Goa, who has already received a test license from DCGI, it added.
Professor Tapas Kundu, Director CSIR-CDRI, said all the raw materials for the drug are indigenously available and if the clinical trial is successful, Umifenovir can be a safe, efficacious, affordable drug against COVID-19. He added that the drug has the potential for prophylactic use.
Dr Shekhar Mande, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), highlighted that this clinical trial is an integral part of the CSIR strategy of repurposing drugs for COVID-19.
The clinical trial application was processed on high priority as per the DCGIs initiative against COVID-19. The next steps of the trial are being fast tracked to enable the availability of the drug to Indian patients as soon as possible, the statement added.
CSIR labs have been trying to repurpose different drugs for treating coronavirus patients. For the last three months, the Drug Controller General of India has allowed the use of Favipiravir drug, developed within the country by a CSIR laboratory, for clinical trials to treat coronavirus patients.
In another case, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has tied up with Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd to evaluate Mycobacterium W (Mw) for faster recovery of hospitalised COVID-19 infected patients.