50-year-old bacteria discovered by an India biologist half-a-century ago is found effective in curing the coronavirus patient. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is all set to start three clinical trials with a medicine containing an inactivated form of the bacteria.
To check whether the intravenous drug Sepsivac used under sepsis and blood poisoning can reduce mortality, the first trial will be on 50 critically ill COVID-19 patients. The second trial will be on about 500 asymptomatic people who came in contact with patients and healthcare workers affected by the virus. This is to improve their immunity.
The third trial will be on patients who are not critically ill. The objective is to see if the drug can result in quicker recovery and also prevent the development of the virus.
“We have received approvals from the Drugs Controller General of India for three trials. The first one will start soon and preliminary results may come in 35-40 days. Depending on the results, we will take a call on the other two trials,” Ram Vishwakarma, director of CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu, and coordinator for the COVID-19 activities at CSIR told DH.
The drug consists of a microbe named Mycobacterium W (MW) later modified to Mycobacterium indicus pranii(MIP) to honour its discoverer Dr Gurusaran Pran Talwar who established the National Institute of Immunology in Delhi. Talwar with his students found MW in 1970s while finding a vaccine for leprosy. Due to its various beneficial properties, other researchers used the bacteria for curing TB and also for some type of cancer patients.
“MW boosts the body’s immunity to fight against external agents like bacteria. For gram-negative sepsis it reduces the mortality by 50%. We would like to see if it works against Covid-19. The AIIMS Bhopal obtained approval from its Institutional Ethics Committee and we are waiting for the other two hospitals to complete the process,” said CSIR director general Shekhar Mande.
These trials aim to boost the immunity of the patients helping them to fight the virus.