Indian Biotech firm Biocon has announced that its drug Itolizumab has received clearance from the Drugs Controller General of India for treating moderate to severe COVID-19 patients.
company has received permission to market Itolizumab drug in the form of 25mg/5mL injections at a price of Rs 8,000 per vial. Furthermore, Itolizumab will be only used for the treatment of cytokine release syndrome in moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome that is caused due to the novel coronavirus.
Itolizumab is, in fact, the first novel biologic therapy to be approved across the globe for treating moderate to severe COVID-19 patients, according to Biocon.
What is Itolizumab?
Developed by Bengaluru-based Biocon in collaboration with Centre for Molecular Immunology, Cuba, Itolizumab is essentially a ‘humanised monoclonal antibody’ that are basically antibodies produce by immune cells that are cloned from a parent immune cell
They target a particular kind of protein and Itolizumab targets CD6 protein that is normally seen in the outer membrane of T-cell. T-cells are responsible for identifying and destroying cells infected with COVID-19
Protein CD6 helps to keep T-cells active when they come in contact with alien pathogens. However, with COVID-19, the process intensifies causing cyotike storms that severely impact organs causing inflammation and severe damage. Itolizumab prevents that from happening by fusing with CD6.
It was originally a drug to treat psoriasis — a skin disease that causes skin cells to form scales and dry itchy patches.
Biocon Drug Itolizumab Price And Tests
The drug is being permitted for treatment against COVID-19 after a positive result from randomised controlled clinical trials conducted by medical institutions in New Delhi and Mumbai. The drug met required thresholds while also reducing the mortality rate in patients suffering from moderate to severe cases of COVID-19
Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Said In A Virtual Press Conference:
“Itolizumab’s unique mechanism of action made it an ideal candidate for treating the ‘cytokine storm’, which is a leading cause of death in Covid-19 patients. ALZUMAb has a seven-year proven track record of safety as doctors in India have been prescribing this biologic to treat acute psoriasis and ensure a better quality of life for patients and now we will be able to save many critically ill Covid-19 patients with our drug.”
She added, “Until the vaccine comes, we certainly need life-saving drugs. I think what we are doing across the world is to see how we can either repurpose drugs or develop new drugs to treat this pandemic.”