India has begun work to develop, test and market a botanical drug to treat of dengue, with drug major Sun Pharma announcing its collaborative effort with the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).
The move follows a March announcement of success in the drug’s initial development stage through a joint project between the ICGEB, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
Sun Pharma will fund entire development programme of Cissampelos pariera (Cipa), the botanical drug to treat all strains of dengue. While the pharma giant will pay royalty following commercialisation of the drug, the ICGEB will provide the technical know-how and pre-clinical expertise.
“Using the knowledge of traditional Indian medicine, we explored the indigenous herbal bio-resource to identify plants with pan-DENV inhibitory activity and identified CIPA as a safe, affordable and effective solution,” said Dr Dinakar M Salunke, director, ICGEB, New Delhi.
Given the densely-populated cities and the high prevalence of the mosquito that spreads dengue -- aedes aegypti -- India is home to close to 50% of the global population estimated to be at risk of dengue. Severe dengue, which can potentially kill, correlates with very high-virus load, reduction in platelet counts and haemorrhage.
The new drug is expected to reduce high-virus load and make the disease milder, leading to fewer hospitalisations. The collaboration aims to explore how the extract prepared from Cipa Linn can inhibit the replication of virus in living cells against dengue infection.
The terms of this agreement permits Sun Pharma’s access to all the intellectual properties of this drug cross 17 countries.
“In tropical countries like India, where dengue outbreaks are significantly intense, a drug for dengue is an unmet public health need. Our partnership with ICGEB aims to develop Cipa as a safe, effective & affordable botanical drug for treatment of dengue,” said Kirti Ganorkar, senior V-P, business development and portfolio management, Sun Pharma, the world’s fifth largest generic pharmaceutical company.
The ICGEB will establish assay systems for development of Cipa for treatment of dengue infection for a pre-defined period of time. The ICGEB will work exclusively with Sun Pharma for the development of this drug, and clinical treatment strategies based on botanical and phyto-pharmaceuticals. Sun Pharma will pay royalties on sales post commercialisation. Other financial details of this agreement are confidential.
Dengue is estimated to costs India over $1.1 billion (about Rs 7,260 crore) annually, with the cost of medical care being nearly $550 million and the indirect cost, in terms of lost wages, being another $550 million.