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2-DG Anti-Covid Oral Drug | EXPLAINED

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan released first batch of 2-DG drug. Image Courtesy - PTI

On May 8 2021, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave emergency approval to use 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) drug on Covid-19 patients as the clinical trial of the drug reported faster recovery of hospitalised patients. The first batch of 10,000 doses of 2-DG drug was launched by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on 17th May 2021.   


2-deoxy-D-glucose drug is an oral anti-viral dose that has been developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a leading laboratory of DRDO in collaboration with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory (DRL), Hyderabad. The anti-viral drug will be used to treat those who have moderate-serious Covid-19 infection. The drug comes in powder form, packed in a sachet, that can be taken orally by dissolving it in water. The drug needs to be taken twice a day.  A Covid-19 patient may have to consume the drug for five to seven days a week in order to recover.   


The molecule accumulates in the virus- infected cells which prevents virus growth, its synthesis and its energy production. The drug prevents their multiplication. The clinical trial results showed that the drug can also help reduce the supplemental oxygen dependence. A supplemental oxygen is used when a person suffers from shortness of breath that progresses to a more acute condition. The drug has been repurposed to treat infected cells due to Covid-19, as the 2-DG molecule is primarily used to treat tumour and cancer cells.  

Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes the drug unique.”, the defence ministry said. Its mechanism and performance to target infected cells is expected to save lives of people.   

READ: Coronavirus Vaccination Update: Over 6 lakh doses administered on May 16

According to Dr Anil Mishra, Director of the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, the drug can be used to arrest any form of Covid-19 variant. He further explained that when the drug enters our body, the virally infected cells start multiplying due to high glucose uptake. Once the process stops, the oxygen crisis is addressed.    


In April 2020, during the first wave of Covid-19, experiments were conducted in laboratory by Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) and DRDO with the help of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. The results showed that the 2-DG molecule can work effectively against SARS-CoV2 virus and can limit the virus growth.  

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 PHASE II was about testing the safety and efficacy of the drug. It took place from May 2020 to October 2020. DRDO and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory (DRL) together conducted clinical trials in six hospitals and tested the drug on 110 patients. The results showed that the drugs were safe for Covid-19 patients. Patients showed faster symptomatic cure than the actual Standard of Care (SoC). 

READ: Dr Reddy’s inks licensing agreement with Eli Lilly for COVID-19 treatment drug

 PHASE III clinical trial started on 220 patients between December 2020 to March 2021 at 27 Covid-19 designated hospitals in New Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. When compared to Day-3 condition of patients under SoC, the 2-DG drug showed that patients recovered symptomatically and reported reduction in supplemental oxygen dependence.  


Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved several other drugs to cure Covid-19 patients in India. Zydus Cadila’s “Virafin” received an emergency nod from DGCI. Favipiravir received an emergency use authorisation for treatment of mild or moderate infections. In addition to these, Remdesivir, Dexamethasone and Hydroxychloroquine are some of the drugs that are widely used for treating Covid-19 symptoms in India.   

WATCH: COVID-19: DRDO’s Anti-COVID Drug 2-DG Launched | 2-DG Drug

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