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HomeHealthCSIR to test sepsis drug in asymptomatic Covid patients and those who...

CSIR to test sepsis drug in asymptomatic Covid patients and those who have recovered

CSIR will launch trials to see if sepsis drug can stop Covid-19 from progressing in asymptomatic patients & if it can prevent it from redeveloping in recovered patients.

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New Delhi: Scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will launch two separate trials to test if a drug used to treat sepsis and liver cirrhosis can stop Covid-19 infection from progressing in asymptomatic patients and whether the same drug can prevent recurrence of the infection in patients who have recovered.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has research teams across the world scrambling to find a treatment or vaccine for the disease that has no known cure. Since developing a new treatment from scratch can take years, researchers are looking to repurpose existing drugs to help patients fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.

The drug to be used for the trials is known as Sepsivac, which was developed by the CSIR in partnership with pharmaceutical company Cadila in 2007.

Also read: Govt plans to test whether ashwagandha, mulethi, guduchi will help fight Covid-19

The trials

In an earlier interview, Ram A. Vishwakarma, director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) in Jammu, told ThePrint that his team is set to test whether the drug can reduce the risk of death in critically-ill Covid-19 patients.

This trial has now started at the PGIMER, Chandigarh, while AIIMS, Delhi, and AIIMS, Bhopal, will launch the trial later.

“There will be another trial of patients who have tested positive, but have no symptoms. These people will be given this drug as a vaccine, so that their disease does not progress, and they do not end up in hospitals,” Vishwakarma told ANI Wednesday.

A third trial of the drug will be for people who have already been cured as it is now known that the virus can stay in patients for upto a month.

“… people who have been released from hospital will be given this as a vaccine, so that they don’t redevelop this infection,” he said.

The drug works as an ‘immunomodulator’

Vishwakarma explained to ThePrint that to fight viruses there are usually two approaches — developing a drug against the virus itself or creating an ‘immunomodulator’, which helps the immune system in fighting off the virus.

Sepsivac falls in the second category, Vishwakarma said.

The drug is synthesised by culturing a bacteria called Mycobacterium w in a large scale, which is inactivated by heat. A number of proteins on the surface of the bacteria triggers a desirable immune response, he said.

Sepsis is a condition that happens due to an overactive or inflammatory immune response that occurs when a pathogen enters the blood plasma, leading to organ dysfunction that can be fatal.

Caused by gram-negative bacteria, sepsis has a pathology similar to that of Covid-19, Vishwakarma said.

“Initially our body tries to defend itself against viruses by using its innate immune system. After 4-5 days, when the body cannot fight off the pathogens, it employs a higher level of defence — which is what causes the cytokines storm,” he said.

Cytokines are small proteins secreted as a result of different types of interactions between cells. In the novel coronavirus infection, this heightened release of cytokines is common in critically ill patients.

“This high level of immune response starts to damage the body’s organs. That is what is causing the multi-organ failure that we are seeing in Covid-19 patients,” Vishwakarma said.

Also read: Modi govt advises homoeopathy, Unani to prevent coronavirus that has no known cure yet


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