Sun Pharma, NIV to jointly test drugs for Zika, chikungunya and dengue

Zika - antenatal-care. Photo WHO

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune signed an agreement for testing phytopharmaceutical, biologic and chemical entities developed by Sun Pharma against Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses. Sun Pharma will provide drug molecules to NIV for testing against Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses.

“A couple of interesting phytopharmaceutical candidates against Zika virus has been identified. There could be a lead candidate and multiple formulations,” says Dr. Altaf Lal, Senior Advisor for Global Health and Innovation at Sun PharmaThe phytopharmaceuticals are being developed for treating individuals infected with Zika virus and possibly for curing Zika disease.” The company is currently not looking at developing a vaccine against Zika virus.

These phytopharmaceutical candidates have been isolated from plants found in India. “We need controlled farming to produce phytopharmaceuticals when we get into commercial production of the product,” he says.

In the case of chikungunya, Sun Pharma has identified certain chemical entities in house which would be tested at NIV.

According to Dr. Devendra Mourya, Director of NIV, the drug molecules will be tested against all the three viruses through laboratory studies (in vitro) and the promising candidates will be tested on animals.

The agreement with NIV follows the memorandum of understanding entered by Sun Pharma and ICMR for conducting joint scientific research and innovation for testing of drugs, biosimilars and vaccines and disease control and elimination programs.

Zika, chickungunya and dengue viruses are transmitted to humans by infected Aedes mosquitoes. A few vaccines against Zika are at various stages of clinical testing across the world, including India. There are currently no drugs to treat or cure these viral infections and patients are given symptomatic treatment.

Published in The Hindu on June 27, 2017