Explainer: What is 2-DG, India's new anti-Covid drug? How does it work?

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: May 17, 2021, 04:22 PM(IST)

Representative image of medicines Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The first batch of the Indian made anti-Covid drug called “2-DG” or “2-deoxy-D-glucose” was released for medical use on Monday. Here's what we know about it so far

The first batch of the Indian made anti-Covid drug called “2-DG” or “2-deoxy-D-glucose” was released for medical use on Monday. Touted as a wonder drug to help ailing patients while reducing the dependency on supplementary oxygen, it is believed that the medicines could immensely take the load off India’s strained healthcare system and could also help limit the fatalities in rural areas which have been ravaged in the ongoing second wave of COVID-19.

Here’s what we know so far

How was it created?

The formulation of the drug was cleared for emergency medical use by India’s national drug regulator - Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on May 1 to treat Covid patients with moderate to severe infections.

2-DG was created by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a lab which functions under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The lab collaborated with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), as stated in the Defence Ministry’s release from earlier in May.

What does it do?

Based on clinical data, it appears that the constituent molecules of the 2-DG accentuate the recovery of patients that are witnessing moderate to severe symptoms of COVID-19, especially ones who have undergone hospitalisation and are heavily dependent on oxygen support. 

According to available trial data, the drug gathers all cells that are infected with the virus. Then, it prevents further viral multiplication of the virus and halts the production go energy, effectively limiting the spread of the disease. The drug is being touted as a magic cure for its ability to accumulate infected cells in an infected person.

How much data do we have?

The clinical trials for 2-DG began in summer 2020, when India witnessing its first wave of COVID-19. According to the INMAS-DRDO trials, the molecule in the drug effectively fights COVID-19 and stops the growth of the virus. The phase 2 trials for 2-DG began in May 2020 among COVID-19 patients. The trials were undertaken for 110 patients between May and October in 2020.

According to trials, the first part of the phase 2 trials was conducted in six hospitals, while the second part was done at 11 hospitals. Phase 3 trials began in November 2020. Between December 2020 and March 2021, 220 patients underwent trials from 27 hospitals spread across Delhi, West Bengal, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

What’s the proof?

According to government data, 2-DG was not only safe among Covid patients, but in fact helped improve the recovery. The trial data says the patients who received 2-DG recovered quicker than those who received standard treatments.

Phase 3 trials showed that 2-DG recipients were off supplementary oxygen (42 per cent as opposed to 31 per cent who were receiving standard care) by the third day of being administered the drug.

If this works out well, the drug could change the route of treatments being commissioned in India right now.

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