"The 2-DG drug developed by DRDO will be a game-changer in the battle against the pandemic, as it helps in faster recovery of Covid patients and reduces oxygen dependence," he said after meeting its scientists here.
Developed by the DRDO's Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), in collaboration with Dr Reddy's Laboratories in Hyderabad, the Deoxy-D-Glucose (2-DG) drug is an anti-Covid therapeutic application.
Clinical trials have shown that the drug's molecule helps in faster recovery of Covid patients as it reduces supplemental oxygen dependence.
"As Covid patients treated with 2-DG turned negative after their RT-PCR test was conducted, it will help in their early discharge from hospital," said Sudhakar.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) permitted DRDO to carry out Phase 2 trials of the drug on 110 Covid patients in May 2020.
"In Phase 2A trials conducted from May to October 2020 in 6 hospitals and Phase 2B in 11 hospitals across the country, the drug was found to be safe in treating Covid patients and its efficacy was shown in their faster recovery," a statement said.
In the Phase 3 trials held from December 2020 to March 2021 at 27 hospitals in 10 states on 220 patients, results showed they improved symptomatically faster, with reduced dependency on oxygen supply.
The DCGI granted permission for emergency use of the 2-DG drug as adjunct therapy in moderate-to-severe Covid patients.
"Being a generic molecule and analogue of glucose, the drug can be produced for use across the country soon," the minister said.
The drug in powder form can be taken orally by dissolving it in water. It accumulates in the infected cells and prevents virus growth by stopping its synthesis and energy production.
"Its selective accumulation in virally infected cells makes this drug unique," added Sudhakar.
In the pandemic's second wave, thousands of Covid patients have been facing severe oxygen dependency due to lower saturation levels.
"The 2-DG drug is expected to save lives due to its mechanism of operation in the infected cells of Covid patients and reducing their stay in hospital," noted the statement.