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Cipla and CSIR-IICT to develop drugs to treat Covid-19

V Rishi Kumar Hyderabad | Updated on March 18, 2020 Published on March 18, 2020

Zoom in on three promising chemical compounds

Pharmaceutical company Cipla has come forward to engage with CSIR-IICT to take up manufacture of three promising chemical compounds with anti-viral properties, to treat Covid-19.

It has sought the help of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology to make the active pharma ingredients (APIs) for manufacturing them.

IICT Director S Chandrasekhar, and principal scientist Prathama S Mainkar said Cipla chairman YK Hamied had contacted them with regard to preparing the chemical compounds — Favipiravir, Remdesivir and Baloxavir.

This will enable the pharma major to start the next phase of trials, take up regulatory authority approvals and subsequent mass production of the anti-viral drugs. Chandrasekhar said several anti-viral drugs were discovered in the last few years but were halted after clinical trails, due to lack of demand.

Advanced process

IICT scientists had narrowed down to about 15 such compounds that had passed the toxicology reports and the above three are in that category.

“First two chemical compounds — Favipiravir and Remdesivir — have already undergone clinical trials and, hence, we will not require much time to make them as the raw materials are readily available. It could take six to 10 weeks to make them. We had proactively started making the molecules in our modern Kilo lab with scientists working in two shifts. Process to start Baloxavir molecule will begin now,” IICT has said.

According to the Director, due to artificial intelligence, deep data mining and advanced computational and mathematical models, it is not that difficult to narrow down to the chemical compounds required.

“We will be making about 100 gm each to begin with. Cipla will follow it up with bio-equivalence tests on dogs and human trials before approaching the regulatory authority to manufacture the drug to treat Covid-19,” he said.

“Cipla will be investing substantial resources into the making of the drug, which should be in the market in the next six months. We will get royalty, this is not the first time we are collaborating with the pharma giant as we had helped them make drugs for AIDS and cancer,” Chandrasekar said.

The research institute is ready to supply Reverse Transcriptase PCR or RT-PCR enzyme used for Covid-19 testing kits, with 40,000 units ready, and the process on to make more of them on demand.

Published on March 18, 2020
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