Asia’s largest vaccine maker, Pune based Serum Institute of India is planning to wear another feather in her cap by trying to launch Dengue treatment in India. Dengue is creating a havoc in India especially in Delhi, which is experiencing the worst outbreak in 5 years.
Dengue virus infects the cells of human immune system and other cell types causing high fever, severe headache, extreme pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle ache, rash and mild bleeding. Disease sometimes take the serious turn when plasma leaks out of the circulatory system and can lead to massive bleeding, shock, and death. The Dengue patient is given supportive therapy involving bed rest, intravenous fluid replacement and mild analgesic-antipyretics (except Aspirin, other salicylates, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to help with fever, pain and malaise. Till date, there is no specific treatment for this painful disease.
Visterra, a US based biotechnology company has invented the potential Dengue drug, VIS513. VIS513 is an engineered humanized antibody that targets a conserved region of protein found in all the Dengue virus serotypes has been proved successful in counteracting the infection by all four serotypes of Dengue virus when tested on animal models. Serum institute aims to do the clinical studies on a few hundreds of Dengue patients in India along the lines of Visterra’s trials in singapore. Serum bought the exclusive rights from Visterra to develop the drug for the Indian subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka in $39 million and seeks a fast track approval from the Ministry of Science and Technology to roll out VIS513. Serum is hopeful that this treatment will help the Dengue patient in 3-4 days or sooner after being injected. A single dose will be sufficient and will cost between Rs. 5000-10,000.
Serum is also trying to develop the Dengue vaccine but it can take years to finally come in the market as vaccine trials need to be done on thousands of patients to prove its efficacy and safety. Sanofi has already completed Dengue vaccine phase II trials and will be a pioneer in launching the Dengue vaccine.
Hopefully, Serum will get the nod from Indian government soon, to start the process of launching the drug which might become a lifesaver for many serious Dengue patients.