Date: 27-May-2020

Pune Based Drug Discovery Firm To Start Trial On Anti- Parasitic Drug For Covid-19

Pune-based drug discovery research company Novalead will study the effectiveness of an anti- parasitic drug in the recovery of moderately ill Covid-19 patients, according to its CEO.

The Tata Capital-backed company uses computational model to search existing drugs for newer therapies.

Supreet Deshpande, CEO of Novalead, told ET that the firm will start phase 3 randomised trials to study whether the generic drug nitazoxanide brings down the viral load of a moderately ill Covid-19 patient, and the time taken for it. The secondary endpoint of the study will be to see if patients are able to get off oxygen support after administration of the drug.

In India, Novalead is enrolling 100 patients across six centres for the trial which is expected to start in a month’s time.In labs, this drug has displayed anti-viral activity and also has inhibited the ability to calm the cytokine storm,” said Deshpande.

This is the first trial registered for this drug in India. Globally, studies are on to determine the effectiveness of this drug on Covid-19 patients.

The drug will be compared to hydroxychloroquine and standard of care treatment that is prescribed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s top medical research body.

Nitazoxanide has proven to have modest benefit in diseases such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

According to a trial study ongoing in Mexico, the scientific basis for considering it for Covid-19 is because the molecule and its circulating active metabolite, tizoxanide, inhibit the replication of a wide range of viruses, both RNA and DNA. It has action against 16 strains of Influenza A virus subtypes H1N1, H3N2, H3N2v, H3N8, H5N9, H7N1 and a strain of influenza B. It also works against respiratory syncytial virus, norovirus, dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis virus, rotavirus, hepatitis B and C, even against the human immunodeficiency virus, SARS and MERS. This study is expected to be completed in December this year.

In India, as the infection continues to spread rapidly, evidence shows that nearly 80% of the people recover from Covid-19. However, as experts come to terms with “living” with the SARS-Cov2 virus--which causes Covid-19