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Coronavirus: Researchers explore biological route, use of Hepatitis Medication to cure Coronavirus infection

Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b has been used as a treatment for COVID-19 in Cuba and China. It is also a part of the treatment guidelines of the Chinese government.

Apr 21, 2020 14:01 IST
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Zydus Cadila, a pharmaceutical company on April 20 stated that it's biological therapy Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b can be one of the ways for the treatment of COVID-19.

The treatment has emerged after the publication of two research articles at bioRxiv and medRxiv.

The company has been manufacturing Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b under the brand name of PegiHep since 2011 for the treatment of Hepatitis B and C. It is not yet licensed for the treatment of COVID-19.

Key Highlights:

Interferon alpha-2b has been used as a treatment for COVID-19 in Cuba and China. It is also a part of the treatment guidelines of the Chinese government.

It has been commercially manufactured by Zydus under brand name PegiHep for Hepatitis B and C treatment with 1.5 lakh doses being administered. PegiHep is not yet approved for COVID-19 treatment.

The Managing Director of the Pharma company stated that as the healthcare fraternity all over the world is going through the options for the safe treatment of COVID-19, Interferon alpha-2b emerges as one the possible options to reduce the effect of the virus.

The emergence of Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b treatment:

The emergence of the treatment was after the publication of two non- peer research articles at medRxiv and bioRxiv.

bioRxiv was by the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. It showed the evidence of a direct anti-viral effect of interferon-alpha against COVID-19 in vitro. The research showed around 10,000 fold reduction in virus titre in cells which were 48 hours earlier were treated with interferon-alpha.

medRxiv was by the group of universities in Australia, Canada, and China. They analysed 77 moderate Coronavirus subjects in Wuhan. It was observed that those who received Interferon alpha 2b showed a reduction in the duration of the virus shedding period and also in levels of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6.

Zydus in their statement mentioned that the study of medRix suggests that if long-acting molecule such as pegylated interferon-alpha is given in the early stage of infection, COVID-19 patient will show a significant amount of benefit as lesser IL-6 is produced, viral load is reduced and specific immune system to eliminate virus is generated.

Other ventures of the company to combat COVID-19:

Zydus has been working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has opened an investigational new drug (IND) with the purpose of filing for Pegylated Interferon alpha-2b as the treatment for COVID-19.

The company is also collaborating with the Department of Biotechnology to investigate the role of Interferon alpha-2b for COVID-19 treatment. They are also planning on undertaking clinical trials for this.

Zydus is manufacturing Hydroxychloroquine that has been found effective for COVID-19 treatment. They are also working on vaccine development programme which is presently at an animal testing stage.

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