Sun Pharma and ICGEB join up to develop dengue fever drug

Collaboration will aim to explore how the extract prepared from Cipa Linn can inhibit the replication of virus in living cells against dengue infection

The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and Sun Pharmaceutical have signed an agreement to develop Cissampelos pariera (Cipa), a novel botanical drug for treatment of dengue fever.

India represents nearly 50% of the global population estimated to be at risk of dengue. Severe dengue, which is potentially fatal, correlates with very high virus load, reduction in platelet counts and haemorrhage. Antiviral therapy to reduce high virus load may be beneficial in attenuating disease severity.

The high and growing burden of dengue in India suggests a pressing need to improve its public health efforts. It is estimated the cost of medical care for those who get infected with dengue is equal to nearly US$550m annually. Additional indirect economic costs, which are borne by patients and their families in terms of lost wages, amount to another $550m. It is thus believed that dengue costs India a total of more than $1.1bn each year.

Through this collaboration ICGEB and Sun Pharma are developing innovative botanical opportunities to identify herbal options that could be source of dengue inhibitory activity. The developmental efforts of this collaboration will aim to explore how the extract prepared from Cipa Linn can inhibit the replication of virus in living cells against dengue infection.

Sun Pharma will follow up on earlier pre-clinical collaboration between ICGEB and the erstwhile Ranbaxy Laboratories.

'Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease, poses a significant global public health risk,' said Dr Dinakar M Salunke, Director International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi. 'In tropical countries such as India, where periodic dengue outbreaks can be correlated to the high prevalence of the mosquito vector, circulation of all four dengue viruses (DENVs) and the high population density, a drug for dengue is being increasingly recognised as an unmet public health need.

'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.'

The terms of the agreement give Sun Pharma access to all the intellectual properties of this drug across 17 countries. ICGEB will establish assay systems for development of Cipa for treatment of dengue infection for a pre-defined period of time. 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.

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